Beef Mince (Ground) and Marrowfat Peas

(Ground) Beef Mince and Marrowfat Peas, in a tomato gravy with bacon bits and caramelised shallots

Every time I’ve opened one of my cupboards recently a pack of dried marrowfat peas has been glaring at me. So, I went online to check for a beef dish to go with them. Surprisingly there are hardly any recipes online, excepting those for mushy peas as a side for battered deep-fried fish.
Instead I grabbed a pack of mince (ground beef) and went with ingredients to hand, including streaky bacon I had left over. The only thing I couldn’t buy were shallots so I went with pan-frying small onions in bacon fat instead. Nice in flavour, but they don’t keep their shape. Anyway, as this Beef Mince and Marrowfat Peas is such a simple recipe I almost didn’t go with posting it. Then, as I had this yesterday for a late lunch I thought, for something so ordinary there are five veg on a plate – not bad for a lunch that’s quite plain. Okay, that’s not 5 of your 5 a day as you would have to eat 2 carrots to equal 1. Still, there’s quite a wide range of nutrients and vitamins in this. Which decided me to go with. Besides, with the two mash this lunch is packed full of taste.

(Ground) Beef Mince and Marrowfat Peas


  • 100g (3.52 oz) x marrowfat peas, soaked in plenty of water overnight
  • 2 x rashers streaky bacon per person OR 100g (3.52 oz) x pancetta
  • olive oil and bacon fat (from pan-frying the streaky bacon/pancetta)
  • 200g (7.05 oz) x small round shallots, trimmed, peeled and root end sliced off
  • 3 x salad tomatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 250g (8.81 oz) x minced/ground beef
  • 2 x tablespoons tomato purée
  • 2 x carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut in half
  • up to 200ml (0.42 US pt lqd) x water (use less and add more if sauce dries out)
  • 1/2 x organic vegetable stock cube – optional
  • 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
  • 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 x teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 x heaped tsp dried oregano
  • 2 x medium parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunks
  • about 200g (7.05 oz) x potatoes per person
  • single/light cream for potato mash
  • seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • butter, for the carrot and parsnip mash – optional
  • chives, for the mince and potatoes – optional

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • Before soaking the marrowfat peas do check them for any holes that have been drilled into them by insects and discard those. After soaking the marrowfat peas overnight rinse them and add them to a large saucepan with plenty of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked, about 45 minutes. Drain, plunge into cold water if necessary and set aside.
  • Add the tomatoes to a separate pan with a little oil and a lid. Put on heat No 2 for most of their cooking time. Remove the lid after about 15 minutes and continue to pan-fry until nicely caramelised. When ready to add them to the mince mixture pour them into a fine wire metal sieve and using a stainless steel soup ladle rub them through, collecting all of the purée from underneath with a wooden spoon. Discard the remaining pulp.
  • Meanwhile, put a heavy-based pan/skillet on heat No 2 with bacon fat (otherwise use olive oil) and add the shallots. Plonk on a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Take off lid and continue to pan-fry until nicely caramelised on both sides. If not using bacon fat do grab all of the sticky sediment from base of pan with a little of the stock.
  • Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6). When hot enough pour in a little oil. Add the minced/ground beef and allow to settle. I’m finding that with any form of mince/meat here that I have to wait for the meat to ooze out a lot of gunk. That I remove by carefully tilting the pan and mop it out with lots of kitchen paper towels. Then, I have to add a little more oil before the meat will brown. Get the mince as evenly brown/golden as possible. And don’t worry if the mince catches a little, or scorches slightly as it’s all flavour that the stock will grab. Reduce heat to No 1, push mince to the sides, add a glug more oil if necessary and add the garlic and cook for several minutes before pushing to the sides and adding the tomato purée. Allow at least 5 minutes for the rawness of the purée to cook out. Add the cayenne, paprika and red pepper flakes and allow only seconds for those to infuse. This is when the fresh caramelised tomatoes should be rubbed through a fine wire metal sieve into this mixture. Sprinkle over the dried oregano and after that pour in the water, the cooked marrowfat peas, bay leaf and half a stock cube. Up the heat to No 4, cover with lid and bring to boiling point. Reduce heat to No 1 or 2 and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring through occasionally (especially to make certain that the stock cube has fully dissolved). If there’s too much liquid take the lid off for the last 10 minutes or so. If that’s the case do check on the sauce as it might catch on base of pan.
  • For the carrot and parsnip mash I cook the carrots with the beef after pouring in the stock. Then, once the potatoes and parsnips are ready, and before draining them, I add the carrots to reheat. Simply mash both the carrots and parsnips in a suitable bowl with a fork if soft enough. Add a little butter and seasoning to personal taste.
  • When potatoes and parsnips are prepared add them to a saucepan with plenty of cold water with a little salt. Bring them to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked (with a lid). Keep them in their cooking liquor if they’re ready before the beef. Drain when needed, add the potatoes to a suitable bowl, add a little single/light cream and a knob of butter if using and mash, adding a little seasoning to personal taste.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


  1. I love it how you always have streaky bacon “leftover”. 🙂
    And thanks for the wikipedia link… Guess who had to click it. Moi.
    It looks delicious, I am a fan of shallots and mash is the perfect side dish!


    • You do realise I’m cooking for one. A pack of bacon has 8 slices here, and I never eat more than 2 at a time so I always end up with some left…comes in useful. 🙂
      Yeah, thought I’d better link as I’ve no idea what marrowfat peas might be called outside of the UK. Or, if it’s possible to buy them. I’ve always loved ’em.


      • Never tried them (gasp). Do they taste like peas? You know, the normal round ones. I will wait until you are done laughing for the reply…


        • Yes! But very different to organic frozen peas. They’re allowed to mature, then dried. In food like Scotch broth they’re kinda squishy and mellow in taste, more like a legumes. As a kid I used to always hunt the very large saucepan used for that dish for more of them. Selfish littl’ git that I was! 🙂


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