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Creamed Peas and tender Pearl Onions smothered in a delicious, perfectly seasoned, creamy sauce.
Creamed Peas and Pearl Onions is a classic side dish served at holiday dinners for many generations. It’s perfect alongside a Thanksgiving turkey, or a prime rib roast at Christmastime.
Why You’ll Love Creamed Peas and Pearl Onions
- This easy side dish goes great with just about any main course entrée.
- After just one taste, it will bring you back to holiday dinners at grandma’s house.
- Even the kids will gladly eat their vegetables when served like this.
Chef’s Tip – Fresh pearl onions, once peeled, will yield about half the weight as when they started. Our recipe calls for twenty ounces (two 10-ounce bags). If buying frozen, purchase at least 10 ounces. A few extra ounces of onions will not affect the final dish.
Key ingredients and Substitutions
- Pearl onions – Fresh pearl onions take a little bit of work to prep, but it’s easy to do and their tender, sweetness is worth the effort. Note that fresh pearl onions – once peeled – equal about half the weight that you buy. They typically come packed in 10-ounce mesh bags. If fresh are not available, frozen pearl onions will also work.
- Frozen green peas – Frozen peas are perfectly fine for this recipe, and you can’t beat the convenience. Chose a quality brand (we like Green Giant) and thaw before using.
- Light cream – To achieve a creamy sauce, you do want to use at least some cream. You can also dilute heavy cream with milk, or use half and half which is half milk and half light cream. Just avoid using only milk – it won’t give you the same creamy consistency or flavor.
- Thickener – Also known as a roux, butter and flour are combined and cooked to thicken the cream.
- Seasonings – A combination of dried seasonings – including kosher salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard and fresh nutmeg – complement this creamy side dish.
How do I make Creamed Peas and Pearl Onions?
- Drop the skin-on onions into boiling water and cook for three minutes.
- Plunge the onions into a bowl of ice water then drain. While still warm, cut off the root end, then squeeze the onion out from the other end.
- Place the onions in a skillet and pour in enough water to cover them. Simmer for five minutes to finish cooking through. Drain and set aside.
- Melt butter in a sauce pan, then add flour to create a roux. Cook for three to four minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste.
- Add warmed cream to the roux and stir to form the cream sauce. Season with the herbs and seasonings.
- Combine thawed (uncooked) peas and the cooked onions with the cream sauce. Heat just to reach serving temperature – being careful not to scorch or boil the cream sauce.
- Serve immediately.
Chef’s Tip – If you prefer a thinner cream sauce, cut back on the amount of roux, or increase the amount of cream.
Frequently asked Questions
Can I make Creamed Peas and Pearl Onions ahead of time? Yes, once the peas and onions are added, remove from heat and cool. When ready, heat back up in the skillet until hot.
How do I store the leftovers? Cover and refrigerate for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave on a medium heat to ensure that the cream sauce doesn’t break under too hot of a reheat.
Can I freeze this dish? Since the peas were previously frozen, they will get mushy if they were frozen and thawed again. Additionally, the cream sauce may separate – so we don’t recommend freezing.
Do frozen pearl onions need to be peeled? Not usually. Most frozen pearl onions have already been peeled.
Can I make Creamed Peas and Pearl Onions in the slow cooker? We don’t recommend it. Once the onions are peeled and cooked, this recipe only takes about fifteen minutes to finish so there really isn’t a reason to cook it for hours in a slow cooker.
You may enjoy these other recipes made with Peas:
- Peas with Prosciutto
- Parmesan Peas with Pancetta and Shallots
- Creamed Salmon and Peas Over Linguini
- Israeli Couscous with Chicken and Peas
- Ceviche Salmon and Peas on Crackers
2-pound bag frozen peas, thawed
20 ounces fresh pearl onions, or about half that of frozen
2 cups light cream
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
Few grinds fresh nutmeg
If the peas are still frozen, thaw them, but do not cook.
Fill a large bowl with ice water to cool the onions before peeling.
Bring a large sauce pan of water to a boil and add the unpeeled onions. Once the water is back to a boil, time three minutes, drain then add the blanched onions to the ice water to stop cooking. Drain into a colander and move them to a cutting board.
With a small sharp thin-bladed knife, slice off the root end and pinch the other end to have the onion slip out of its skin. Sometimes you also need to cut it away from the skin. Repeat for all of the onions.
Add the peeled onions to a medium skillet, cover with water and boil about five minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat the cream in a small sauce pan just to hot but do not boil.
In the same skillet that you blanched the onions, melt the butter and over medium low heat, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the raw flour smell is gone and the mixture is light tan in color.
Add the hot cream one third at a time, whisking after each addition. The mixture will be very thick, then less thick then finally on the last addition, smooth and creamy as you whisk.
Bring the heat to medium and add the salt, pepper, cayenne, mustard and nutmeg and whisk to combine.
Add the thawed peas and stir with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture is hot, add the onions and heat just to serving temperature.
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Both Prep and Cooking times will be less if frozen pearl onions are used.