The perfect complement to any chicken or white meat dish, French pea sauce is sure to bring additional flavor and a velvety texture to any meal.
French sauces can be broken down into four categories known as "the mother sauces". While hundreds of different sauces can fill these categories, the base of each sauce comes from one of the following:
- Béchamel - a white milk-based sauce
- Espagnole - a brown stock-based sauce
- Velouté - a velvety stock-based sauce that is the base of pea sauce
- Allemande - a velouté sauce that has been thickened with egg yolk and heavy cream
French Pea Sauce
A chicken velouté is the base of French pea sauce. Containing heavy cream, peas, chives and just a hint of sugar, pea sauce can be served on any white meat for a creamy complement. Like all sauces, pea sauce adds moisture, texture and flavor to the meal.
The taste of fresh green peas adds a balance to the meat, evening out dry or gamey cuts while adding dimension to the meal. Variations on the sauce can include the taste of mint, several kinds of fresh mushrooms, dill and even bacon.
Traditional Pea Sauce Recipe
While pea sauce can be made quickly by substituting plain chicken stock for the velouté, true pea sauce is simple and takes time to make.
- 1 cup of chicken velouté
- 1/4 cup of chives
- 1 cup fresh, green peas
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1 Tablespoon of butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in the bottom of a heavy saucepan and add the chives and shallots.
- Sauté the chives and shallots until translucent.
- Add the heavy cream and green peas and stir until reduced by one half to a thick, creamy base.
- Add the velouté and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and add lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer for two to three minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Serve immediately.
Serving Suggestions for Pea Sauce
While pea sauce contains a chicken based velouté, there is no reason why it cannot be paired with other dishes. Try some of these serving suggestions to bring out the most flavor in your meals.
Add some fresh dill and a little extra lemon juice to your pea sauce to serve over salmon. Include red bliss potatoes, steamed and served with a little butter and extra dill to finish the meal.
Butterfly the pork tenderloin before cooking and rub the interior with a little olive oil, some sage and salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with mushrooms and tie the pork closed. Cook in an oven heated to 350-degrees until the pork is cooked through and serve with pea sauce, and sautéed spinach with garlic.
Chicken and Pasta
Rather than a traditional red sauce, bring some depth to your pasta by serving it with pea sauce instead. Quickly sear pieces of chicken on the stove to brown before placing them in the oven. Toss the pasta with broccoli or fresh peas and serve the chicken and pasta together with a pea sauce poured on top.
Lamb with Mint
Add some fresh mint leaves and spinach slices to the pea sauce just as you reduce the heat to a simmer. Pour the sauce over lamb chops served with garlic mashed potatoes on the side.
French pea sauce is a versatile and simple sauce that can accompany nearly any meal. Add the flavor of fresh green peas and creamy velvet texture to any white meat based or fish dish to create a meal with depth.