This 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 definitely 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.
Then again, 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, I firmly believe 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. 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.
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.
Most of all, though, it's a dish I remember eating with my great-aunt-a-few-times-removed, Deolinda, in her cozy farmhouse kitchen in Portugal on a sunny May afternoon during my last trip to 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.
Oh, 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. I'm just a snob like that.
If you absolutely must, you can substitute some other kind of fully-cooked spicy pork sausage, such as andouille or linguica. 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.
Whatever you do, though, just don't forget the bread to mop up the sauce and the rich egg yolks. On that, I must insist.
Portuguese-Style Braised Peas with Eggs
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
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.
- 1 chourico sausage, sliced (about 1 ½ 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)
- 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.
- Stir in tomatoes, peas, 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Category: Mains
Needs about 2- cups of water so peas can cook
Isabelle Boucher says
Good point, Pam! I prefer my ervilhas guisadas on the thick and stewy side with not very much sauce, so I find the liquid from the tomatoes is enough for me, but if you want a saucier version (or your tomatoes aren't very juicy) you can absolutely add some water. I would suggest starting with 1 cup and then working up from there based on your preferences.
Carl Dos-Anjos says
My parents made this regularly though I only recently started cooking it for myself. It is portuguese simplicity in cooking and never fails to deliver. I love it still and hope my children will pass this on as a legacy ?
Thank you for sharing this recipe! We were suppose to be in Portugal this week and unfortunately had to cancel our trip due to COVID19. Instead we searched the internet for Portuguese recipes to cook. Last weekend we made your dish and posted it on our blog....https://honeycombee.com/ it was a delicious meal we really enjoyed!
Isabelle Boucher says
I'm so sorry your trip got cancelled. I hope you're able to visit Portugal once things go back to normal, but I'm glad this recipe gave you the opportunity to get a taste of the cuisine to tide you over.
Patti Robinson says
When do you add the peas??
Isabelle Boucher says
Hi Patti... the peas go in right at the end of Step 2.
I think the confusion is because in step 2, it says says "simmer... until peas are almost cooked through," and then AFTER that, it says to add the peas.
Isabelle Boucher says
Thanks for catching that, Liz. I've fixed the recipe!
marilyn @family food around the clock says
yummy! this recipe just reminds me of home. thank you for sharing!!
Definitely one of my favorite dishes my mom would make me growing up. It really is easy to make, but is super comforting. Adding eggs was optional, but always welcome. Also, more than one relative has advised to use regular nonsmoked paprika.
Isabelle Boucher says
Glad to hear I'm not the only one with fond childhood memories of this dish, Peter. Though I must say that eggs were totally mandatory at my house... it just ain't the same without 'em! :)
Also, your relatives are bang-on. The traditional recipe uses regular paprika (either sweet or spicy), but I like the extra layer of smokiness that the smoked paprika adds to the mix, especially if I'm making the vegetarian version without sausage. Either way, it's might tasty stuff.
Bela Cully says
I was born in Viana do Castelo and both my grandmother and my mother used to make it, I loved it and never forgotten, I have made it before but somehow it never tasted the same. I will give your recipe a try in the hope that childhood memories will come back.
Many thanks for the memories.
Isabelle Boucher says
I know what you mean, Bela... It's always so hard to get dishes to taste just like Avo used to make them. (I've yet to figure out a way to make a balcalhau fritter that tastes like my grandmother's!) Hope this one lives up to the memories.
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!
Kevin (Closet Cooking) says
That is a tasty looking meal! Now to track down some chourico.
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
Hopefully it wins O Marido's approval!
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. ;-)
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! :)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!) :)
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!
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!
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.
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...
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!
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.
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 !
This looks like a great meal - perhaps for when you are camping or in a rush and want a one pot wonder!
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.
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
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!
[email protected] 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!
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.
This looks delicious! just discovered your blog!!
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!
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. :)
This looks so good..... I love everything in it and it seems perfect for the cold rainy day were having in Seattle today!
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.
I love it when bloggers share their favourite comfort foods that remind them of home. This is a winner Isabelle!
This looks incredible!! Love this recipe! :)