Recipe Rewind #5: Ervilhas Guisadas (Portuguese Braised Peas with Eggs and Chourico)

Portuguese-Style Braised Peas with EggsThis is a humble dish. In fact, I’d say it verges on being downright homely, despite the bright pops of green peas against the brick-red sauce, the pepper-speckled egg whites and the dribble of canary-yellow yolk revealed when fork meets egg.  It’s not what I’d serve if the Queen ever came over for dinner (not that it’s a possibility, mind you, but I do like to be prepared for all eventualities).

It’s the kind of dish you eat when you’re surrounded by your nearest and dearest, and want to make something as un-fussy as possible so that you can devote yourself to what’s truly important – the people sitting around the table with you, rather than a finicky dish of deconstructed something-or-other than requires your full attention. There’s something to be said for good food that fades into the background, that provides a pleasant form of sustenance for a long evening of friendly conversation and reminiscences.

It’s also the kind of dish you can make when you’re on your own, and just want to curl up with a good book and a purring cat, so that you can soothe your woes after a yucky day at work. On those evenings, a simple meal that requires little effort, few ingredients and is accompanied by a big hunk of crusty bread is exactly what fits the bill.  Besides, there’s a zen-like serenity to be found in the small rituals of this dish, like shelling peas, cracking eggs and mopping up a saucy plate with the last bit of bread.

Braised Peas - Deconstructed

It’s the kind of dish I remember eating on many a schoolnight after piano lessons or swim practice, perched atop one of the solid farmhouse-style chairs that sat around the giant table in our dining room, legs swinging back and forth in mid-air (though, in retrospect, it may just be that the table and chairs were a rather normal grown-up sort of size, whereas I wasn’t). A last-minute dish that could be made at the last minute to feed two starving, growing, impatient girls.

Portuguese-Style Braised Peas with Eggs

Most of all, though, it’s a dish I remember eating during an afternoon spent with my great-aunt-a-few-times-removed, Deolinda, in her cozy farmhouse kitchen in Portugal. We’d spent a few hours around the kitchen table, shelling fresh peas from her garden and trading family stories and updates. She apologized over and over for the humbleness of the dish, and how unsuited it was for a special guest who had come all the way from Canada… nevermind my assurances that it was the one thing I wanted her to make above all others. The truth is, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make my braised peas taste quite like Deolinda’s.

This, my friends, is happy food.  Pure and simple.

Portuguese-Style Braised Peas with EggsOh, and a quick note on the ingredients – chourico is a fully cooked pork and garlic sausage commonly used in Portuguese cooking.  It should be fairly easy to find in any Portuguese or Brazilian neighbourhood, but Spanish-style chorizo will do just fine if that’s all you can find… the two are more or less interchangeable.  You could even substitute some other kind of fully-cooked spicy pork sausage, such as andouille or linguica, if you absolutely must. Or omit it altogether and add an extra dash of smoked paprika for a vegetarian version.

But please, whatever you do…. don’t use Mexican chorizo, which is an entirely different thing altogether, being a raw, uncured sausage made from ground pork.

As for the peas, fresh sweet peas are the best option when they’re in season (obviously), but frozen peas will do just as well otherwise – just chuck them, still frozen, into the pan and simmer for a minute or two before cracking in the eggs. Canned tomatoes will also do in a pinch, when you’re in complete desperation mode and simply want a quickly assembled dinner.

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Portuguese-Style Braised Peas with Eggs
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Serves: 4
 
This simple dish tastes best when made with fresh sweet peas and ripe tomatoes, but frozen peas and canned tomatoes can be substituted in a pinch. For a vegetarian version, omit the chourico sausage and add another tsp of smoked paprika.
Ingredients
  • 1 chourico sausage, sliced (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red hot chile pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 3 tbsp dry sherry or red wine
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) peas
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chourico for 5 minutes or until slightly browned. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and chile pepper (if using). Continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent. Add sherry or wine to the pan, and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, paprika, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until peas are almost cooked through and sauce has slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in peas.
  4. Using a large spoon, create four hollows in the pea mixture, and carefully break an egg into each hollow. Cover skillet and simmer until the eggs are cooked as desired (7 minutes should be enough for a soft, runny yolk; 10 minutes for a hard, crumbly yolk).
  5. To serve, arrange thick slices of fresh crusty bread or toasted English muffin halves on four plates. Spoon some of the braised peas onto the bread on each plate, then top each serving off with an egg. Sprinkle with a little fresh parsley, if you have some.

Comments

  1. Ellie says

    Hi Isabelle, Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe…and the beautiful photos that inspired me to make the dish.
    Loved how simple it was to make… not to mention it provided for a delicious lunch:). We absolutely loved it! I am planning on making it much more often…
    I love your recipes!

  2. Rochelle says

    This looks gorgeous! O Marido made it for me once back in Canada, but it’s been a while and I am craving it again now thanks to these photos.

    I’ll be making it this time around though, and if the weather keeps being all rainy and cool I’ll be doing it soon :D

  3. Ruby says

    Oh I love the look of this. I wonder if my Hungarian ‘Pick’ sausage would work well? As for HRM, I think this is precisely the kind of dish she’d love. It would be a revelation to her after years of overly-engineered haute cuisine. In fact, when (not if) she comes to my place, I’m making her red beans ‘n rice, N’awlins style. ;-)

    • Isabelle says

      I’ve never had ‘Pick’ before… my rule of thumb is that any cooked or smoked sausage will do (like kielbasa, cappicolo or a soft pepperoni), but not a dry, oily sort of sausage (like soppressata, salami or saucisson). Who knows, though… it might still be worth a try!
      Also, you’re now the second Brit claiming HRM would be more than happy to eat this dish… perhaps I need to re-draft my Official Imaginary Royal Visit Menu accordingly. Less crumpets, more comfort food! :)

  4. Russell says

    Wow this looks scrumptious. Very different from anything I’ve made or had before which has me super intrigued. I now want to curl up with my kitty and a book–ok maybe a magazine…or my food blogs–and chow down on this.

  5. Choosy Beggar Tina says

    What a simple and delicious looking meal. I love the rustic hand-me-down recipes that we remember from Grandma’s (or Tata’s, Yiayia’s, etc) kitchen. I call it ‘peasant food’, but it is so much more special than that. Recording these recipes, like you have done, or teaching them to our children, is such an amazing way to keep the culinary traditions alive.

    • Isabelle says

      Exactly! This is grandma food! :)
      I’m very sad that I didn’t take the time to learn more of my grandmother’s recipes when I was younger. She never had a formal education and is functionally illiterate, so nothing was ever written down… her recipes all come down to “mix these ingredients together until it’s the right consistency, and then cook it until it’s done”.
      So glad my mother managed to write this one down, at least!

  6. Olga @ MangoTomato says

    wow. this looks amazing. meat, eggs and peas! but so rustic and elegant at the same time. I make a much simpler version of this called Shakshuka: pretty much eggs poached in tomato sauce.

    • Isabelle says

      Yes, this dish is very much like the Israeli shakshuka, or an Italian dish called “eggs in purgatory”… I guess it’s a common dish around the Mediterranean! (rightfully so… it’s delicious!) :)

  7. Kita says

    Im just learning to enjoy eggs. I want to – but they have always made me uneasy when I try to eat them (childhood trauma long story, Ill send the cliff notes when its made into a movie by the WB).

    These look lovely -I hope to be enjoying them soon!

  8. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic says

    This sounds absolutely delicious. I love eggs and chourico, and this really seems like a perfect homey, comfort dish. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I am bookmarking it!

  9. Kimmy @ Lighter and Local says

    ((hugs)) and hello!

    1) I have more homemade chorizo than I know what to do with. (what a problem, I know)
    2) I also just put a ton of local peas into the freezer.

    In summary – I will be making this soon.

  10. Celia says

    This looks like really serious comfort food – the kind that always feels like someone’s grandma cooked it. Looks like an awesome dinner…but I think I’m going to go outside the box…and try it as a brunch soon. Mmm…eggs and chourico…

  11. Hester aka The Chef Doc says

    This is an absolutely lovely dish! And all your suggestions of when to eat them are spot on. It’s a true comfort dish and I’d love to have some in my near future :-) Peas, eggs, chourico… oh my! And I am a total sucker for paprika!

  12. Jackie says

    I saw you post this up on your Flickr and it looked awesome. Now I have the recipe I’m going to steal it and run away, mwahaha.

    Seriously though, I reckon I would love this and I reckon the Queen would love this. I have it on good authority, dontchaknow.

    Jax x

  13. Elizabeth of AsianinAmericamag says

    Isabelle, this is fabulous comfort food! We have something similar to this in our Filipino cuisine, and it’s my go-to dish. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed your blog and will be back for more !

  14. Ruth says

    This looks like a great meal – perhaps for when you are camping or in a rush and want a one pot wonder!

  15. Vijitha says

    This dish looks incredible. Interesting list of ingredients. I never used peas with eggs.

    I am having a summer drink giveaway in my blog. Do check it out when you get a chance.

  16. sippitysup says

    You know every time I cruise through here (which isn’t as many times as it should be), I am always thrilled and impressed with your culinary selections. You go further into the unexpected (and unfamiliar) than most bloggers. I salute you! GREG

  17. Viviane Bauquet Farre says

    Simple is delicious. I admire this dish’s straightforward healthiness and unpretentious presence. I very much agree with your post too; the friends with whom you eat the food are the most important! Cheers!

  18. Lindsey@Lindselicious says

    What a colorful dish and an interesting combination!! I have never seen this, I would love to go visit Portugal. Thanks for sharing this comfort recipe!

    • Isabelle says

      You must! Portugal is an absolutely wonderful place – the food is simple but delicious, the landscapes are beautiful, and the people are so welcoming and friendly. It’s been over 6 years since my last trip, but I’m dying to go again someday.

  19. Peggy says

    Oh this looks amazing! I’m a sucker for meals that include a runny egg yolk, and everything else about this, from the peas to the sausage – sounds just my style!

    • Isabelle says

      I love me a runny egg yolk too (give me soft boiled or sunny-side up eggs any day of the week!)
      The Boy doesn’t, though, so I usually add his egg to the pan a few minutes before mine… it’s an easy compromise. :)

  20. Susie says

    This looks so good….. I love everything in it and it seems perfect for the cold rainy day were having in Seattle today!

    • Isabelle says

      I’ll try to send some Toronto sunshine your way… we could really use some rain here! In the meantime, though, this is definitely the kind of food for cold, rainy days.

  21. bellini says

    I love it when bloggers share their favourite comfort foods that remind them of home. This is a winner Isabelle!

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