Black Country · Food · Recipe

Grey Peas and Bacon Recipe

Being a qualified chef, I love food. I love eating food and I love cooking it. Food is like an experience. The taste, the smells…everything about cooking. What more can you love about food than your local traditional foods and tastes. One of my favourite foods is a local dish that is a simple dish.

A little insight…I’m from an area in England known as The Black Country and the name dates back to the 1800s. The area was a very industrial area with a lot of factories and mining. There are a lot of theories about where the name came from but one widely known theory is that as a young Queen Victoria rode through the area in her carriage she closed the curtains and said this was the “blackest country” she had ever seen due to the soot and smoke lingering in the air from the mines and factories.

In the 1800s, food needed to be simple, cheap and filling. Some traditional Black Country foods include pork scratchings, faggots and peas and bread pudding; but the one I’m going to write today is grey peas and bacon. We have our own dialect here in the Black Country, so grey peas in our dialect is gray pays.

Grey peas…a pea with many other names. Maple peas, Carlin peas, pigeon peas and I’m sure there are more. I know that they are widely available here, with most butchers and local stores selling bags of them. If you want to try this recipe, you’ll have to see if grey peas or any other name are available in your area. I will say though, this dish may not look the best but its filling and very tasty.

Grey Peas and Bacon

Image from

1 lb of grey peas
1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 lb of bacon, chopped into small pieces (Traditionally unsmoked but smoked is also tasty)


  • Soak the peas in water and bicarbonate of soda overnight.
  • Strain the peas and replace the water.
  • Bring peas to the boil and then simmer until the peas are tender. Cooking all day usually works too.
  • Chop the bacon into pieces and fry.
  • Add the fried bacon and the juices to the pan of peas and let simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, until the flavours have combined.
  • Serve.

I love eating this dish. It’s really tasty and very traditional for the area where we live.

What do you think about grey peas and bacon? Have you had it or do you want to try it? If you do try, I’d love to hear what you thought. Maybe send in a picture and what you thought, I could make a feature on Nikkipedia of your experiences from using the traditional Black Country recipe.

Best Wishes!


14 thoughts on “Grey Peas and Bacon Recipe

  1. Interesting, enjoyed the history. I always look up food history and I love English food – My boyfriend is half British and I've learnt a lot from his grandmother about English meals but this is a new one


  2. Hoorah! Someone finally posted the correct recipe. I moved away over 20 years ago. When I was feeling nostalgic a couple of years ago I googled the recipe & all of those I found had onion & pearl barley in which I don’t remember. Whenever I go back to the midlands I always come away with several bags of grey peas & pork scratchings. Yum!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, this is the right way to mek gray pays, bicarbonate is important as it softens the peas, keep seeing pearl barley and onion in the ingredients, I’m a Darlaston lad and I’ve travelled throughout the Black Country and never seen any pays served like that!, keep it simple, it doesn’t need to be fancy😊! and it tastes a whole lot better than it looks, thanks for sharing😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Too right Dave. I’ve never had them with pearl barley and onions. You’re welcome for the recipe. If you’re going to do something like gray pays you’ve got to do them right ☺


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