There's a French restaurant in London called La Poule au Pot, or as my English cabbie called it, "that chicken in a pot place." What I love about La Poule au Pot is its homeyness: a fireplace that burns in the winter, dark round tables, wooden chairs, and tucked-away corners—that kind of place. And the food is like that too, as if your Mémé were in the kitchen instead of some French chef.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice." It's the same with vegetables from La Poule au Pot; I always order the vegetable side dish, but I've never gotten the same vegetable twice. A side of vegetables includes two different vegetables on a divided plate, and you can even say, "We're vegan," or, "I don't like zucchini," and they'll accommodate you.
But if you leave them to their own devices, they usually send out something special. These peas were one of my favorites, done with sweet shallots, salty diced ham, and a splash of sweet cream to match the sweet peas. So, here is my rendition. Nothing could be simpler or easier, and you can serve it with anything.
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 1/2 ounces deli ham, cubed the same size as the peas
- 1 pound frozen peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon chervil, chopped
In a wide skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ham, season with salt and pepper, and sauté 1 minute more. Add the peas and the water, lower the heat to low, and cook covered for 10 minutes.
Add the cream, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Allow to continue cooking, uncovered, another 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened around the peas. Stir in the chervil, extra fresh pepper, and serve right away.