Chasing Alton 1: Of peas and potatoes…

We just bought Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings. On page 94, we found Pepper’s Scalloped Potatoes.  Chrissy literally begged us, “If you make one thing in this book, make this,” so we took her up on it.

Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

Before we got started, it was time to decide what should go with the potatoes.  Since they were going to be starchy and hearty, and include a substantial amount of ham and bacon, we went looking for a main dish that read a little more like a side.

To begin our quest of catching up on Alton Brown’s Good Eats series, we turned to him for that dish, and he didn’t disappoint.

Good Eats 2 by Alton Brown

In “Give Peas a Chance,” episode #130 from Season 9, we found our candidate: Split Pea Burgers (page 259).  These promised to be a vegan version of burger patties, which would make a complementary side to the heavily meatified potatoes.

We dug through the pantry and fridge and came up with a relatively short list of ingredients we still needed.  The only thing I could not find at my local grocery store was coriander, but we later substituted in sumac, which worked great.  Can’t fault the store, though.  Despite not carrying coriander, it is one of the few places we know where you can buy most of your groceries, a full set of dog crates for your sled team, and the guns and ammunition to go hunting later.  Welcome to Alaska!

Trivia Learned from Alton:

“Between 1700 and 1900 the English developed over a thousand varieties of peas” (pg 257).

Good Eats 2 page 259 & Cravings page 94

Between prep and long cooking times on both items, we started three hours before we wanted to have dinner.  Peeling the five pounds of potatoes felt like a bit much, and next time we might scrub them and leave the skins on to see how that goes.  Once we got the potatoes sliced and into the Dutch oven with the rest of the ingredients, we prepped the pea burgers.

Dishes piled up quick

This is definitely a weekend dinner because we needed a whole lot of dishes to get through it.

The sink was reaching maximum capacity







Once the pea burger ingredients simmer for an hour or so, it’s time to get them into a food processor for a few pulses.  That mash has to rest and chill in the fridge, so during that time, we pulled the potatoes to start cooling down the dish.  Even when we tucked into them about 45 minutes later, they were still like lava straight from the source.

Finished Scalloped Potatoes

We admit to being partial to bacon, so after we formed pea patties, we fried them in bacon lard.  Well, they COULD have been vegan, and they probably would have only been marginally less wonderful.

Dinner on the table

Once everything hit the table, we had to pronounce the dinner a success, but with a few qualifications:

  • The potatoes were kind of bland. We admit, we used garlic and a little salt instead of the called for “garlic salt,” but there wasn’t really anything else to balance the cavalcade of potatoes here.  They were good, and reheated great, but next time we’ll be tweaking this with some extra spices and herbs.
  • We’ll also take this down by about half, since it does serve 16-20, and we will have leftovers about three times.
  • We are not giving up our bacon lard frying of the Split Pea Burgers (instead of vegetable oil).   Not happening.
  • Holy wah, the dishes! The potato pot looked like a caldera when we were done and cleaned up about as easily.  The pea burgers used a lot of pans and the food processor, but made us love the dishwasher even more.

Despite the dishes, those Split Pea Burgers are going into the regular rotation. We had leftovers, which reheated beautifully for lunches through the end of the week.  Next time, we may double them and see how the leftovers freeze.

All in all, Alton definitely knew best how to use those split peas!

There are plenty of recipes in both books that will be hitting the table soon.