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07 January 2013 @ 01:00 am
Easy All Day Black-eyed Peas  

Traditionally black-eye peas are eaten in the South on New Years for good luck along with cooked greens for money. Some traditions add corn bread and roast pork or ham to complete the meal. Around my house it wouldn’t be New Years without this very Texan of meals.

I frankly hated black-eye peas the first time I had them. They were slimy and dirty tasting; more like the can they were dumped out of than real food. For the life of me I could not comprehend why anyone would willingly choke down a bowlful, even once a year. What was the big deal? I figured as a naturalized Texan, it was just one of those regional things I was never going to understand.

Imagine my surprise some years later when I had fresh cooked ‘field-peas” at my mother-in-law’s house. These peas were sweet, nutty and simply delicious. Before I knew it I have gobbled down two bowls and would have happily eaten more if I had the room. Later I asked her what kind of peas they were, because they certainly tasted nothing like the canned horrors I had, had previously. Karen just smiled and said “You’ve never had real black-eyed peas. Have you?” Um, obviously not.  My in-laws are lucky. Blessed with a huge garden they grow their own peas, shelling and then freezing them to eat year around. I seriously considered raiding Karen’s larder before I flew back to PDX that trip. I can only guess what the TSA would have made of defrosting gallon sized zip bag of peas in my luggage.  Nothing good, I’d bet.


This recipe is a bit spicier than Karen’s and uses readily available dried peas, but it’s as close as I can get to what comes out of her garden without having to go 2800 miles.

Black-eyed Peas                                                                                              Feeds 4 to 6

COMPONENTS
1lb black-eyed peas, dry measure
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 ham bone or ham hock
4oz can green chilies

1 large Jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1T cumin, ground
1T black pepper, ground
2-3c H2O

TOOLSET
Bowl for soaking to beans

Gloves
Colander
Crock pot or slow cooker
Cutting board and knife
Measuring cups & spoons
Tongs
Large serving spoon or ladle
Mortar and pestle for grinding spices (optional)


PROCEDURE


  • Pour the dry peas into a colander, pick through to find any off looking ones or stones and rinse thoroughly. Transfer peas to a large bowl, cover with water and refrigerate over night.

  • The next morning begin by draining the peas in the colander and setting up your crock pot in a spot suitable for long term cooking.

  • While the peas are draining. Break down all the vegetation and add it and the can of chilies to the crock.

  • Grind the spices.

  • Dump the peas and spices in the crock. Stir well and nestle the ham bone down into the mixture.

  • Add should be just enough water cover the peas.

  • Cover crock and set for your longest lowest setting (8 to 10 hours).

  • When you get home fish the ham bone or hock out with the tongs.

  • Serve peas and enjoy.

  • Like many legume recipes, this dish freezes very well and is actually better the second day.

TECH TIP


  • When you chop Jalapenos or any chilies for that matter, it would be very wise to wear gloves so that you do not get any capsicum on your skin or under your nails which can then be easily transferred to your eyes, nose or ”elsewhere”. Not fun.

  • Want to get most out of your spices? Buy them whole and then grind them as needed using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. Whole spices keep their flavor longer on the shelf and once ground deliver more flavor to the pot. 

TIPS & VARIATIONS


  • Meat. Traditionally some sort of smoked pork is used. You can also use sausage, bacon or even smoked fowl to flavor your peas.

  • Spices. I usually make this dish kind of mild using just one hot chili, but you can up the peppers or even add crushed dried chilies for a different heat.

  • Condiments. Try it with hot sauce, sour cream or shredded cheese.

  • Serve with corn bread and collard greens for a full meal.
    Frugally yours-
    KC/FP

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