Cretonnee of New Peas is a thick creamy dish of peas and chicken. It is lightly seasoned and thickened with mild ingredients like white bread, milk and egg yolks. It is a bright spring green dish in which the peas are the star.
The original text reads…
Cretonnee de pois nouveaux. Soient cuis jusques au purer, puis suffris en beau sain de lard ; prenez lait de vache et le boulez une onde en un noef pot ; ayez pain plus blancq tempré oudit lait, gingembre et saffren, tout passé parmy l’estamine ; puis ayez moyeulx d’oes bien batus et les gernons hostez, jettez dedens sur le point de fremir et vos pois dedens, en remuant dilligamment ; puis ayez vostre grain poulez par pieches suffrit en sain de lard et boullis une onde avoecques, puis drechiez chaudement.
Terence Scully’s translation…
Cretonnee of new peas. They should be cooked to a mush, then sauteed in rendered lard. Get cow’s milk and bring it to a boil in a new pot. Have white bread tempered in that milk, along with ginger and saffron, everything strained. Then get well beaten egg yolks, with their strands removed, put them in as it is coming to a boil, along with your peas, stirring attentively. Then have your meat – chicken pieces – sauteed in rendered lard and boiled briefly with the rest. Then dish it up hot.
Here is how I made the dish…
This dish calls for new peas. I used frozen as they are as close to fresh as I had access to at the time.
The ingredients for the dish are peas, white bread, milk, egg yolks, saffron, ginger, chicken and lard for sauteing.
I used regular sliced white bread for the bread in the recipe. The saffron was set to steep in a small amount of water. Chicken thigh meat is what I used in the dish, mostly because they were on sale, and it was cut into bite sized chunks.
I started by setting the peas in a pot to boil. I added salt to the peas to season them and to help draw the moisture out and make them cook down faster. I added about 1/2 cup of water and set them on a high heat and covered them. I checked them every few minutes after they started boiling to stir and add more water as needed to keep them from burning.
While the peas cooking I boiled the milk and added the ginger and saffron. Then the hot spiced milk was added to the cut up bread and left to soak while it cooled.
As the milk and bread soaked and cooled I cooked the chicken thighs in lard. The chicken was cooked through and set to the side to be added later. By this time the peas were almost done cooking. While the peas finished cooking down I pressed the cooled milk soaked bread through the strainer and set it aside to add later.
After the peas had cooked down and were bursting and getting mashed looking I put them in a pan with lard and sauteed them. This removed almost all of the extra moisture from them and broke them down even more. I then added the strained bread/milk and returned it to a boil. Once it was boiling I added the egg yolks in a steady stream while stirring.
The sauteed chicken was added and the dish was
brought back up to a boil and set to simmer for about
10 minutes. This brought the chicken back up to heat
and allowed the dish to thicken up.
The Cretonnee of New Peas was dished up
immediately and served hot.
Iis a bit like a thick pea soup/stew with chicken instead of pork. It was rich and creamy and fairly sweet. I noted that I added salt to the peas as they were cooking. This was not mentioned in the recipe but the salt helped both with the flavor, which was very mild, and with getting the peas to break down into mush.
If I make it again I will make a couple small changes. I will use a less sweet bread, likely french bread. Also I would either use more milk or add a bit more water to the peas as the finished dish was a bit too thick for me personally.