Friday, January 1, 2010

Black Eyed Peas for New Year's Day

Blackeyed peas have long been a tradition for the New Year's table. They supposedly bring good luck for the coming year, and eating them shows "humility". Some Southerners have been rumored to eat one pea for each day of the year to insure good fortune! They are a humble food, therefore, eating them represents humility. The taste of blackeyed peas are unlike other beans, and unless you've grown up eating them, as my husband did, you may find the taste a bit "earthy". In our house, we cook blackeyed peas with ham hocks, or a ham bone, and water. That's it. No fooling with the recipe is allowed! However, I do have several recipes you can use if you prefer a spicy version. They make a nice side dish served with cornbread, ham and greens, if your family enjoys a Southern style meal. The spicy versions are good served with fajitas, tamales or similar dishes.

Blackeyed Peas and Ham

1 pound dried blackeyed peas
2 ham hocks or a ham bone with ham left on it
Pepper to taste
onions, sliced
hot sauce

Place the ham bones or hocks in a crockpot, add the peas after they have been rinsed (but not soaked), and cover with water completely. Cook all day on low, or 4 or 5 hours on high. Crockpots vary, so keep checking. You may need to add more water. Stir a couple of times while checking. Some people like them almost mushy, but I like them not quite that soft. Season with pepper if you wish. Serve with slices of onion and hot sauce-a smooth cayenne variety.

Spicy Blackeyed Peas

olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. chili powder
1 16 oz. can blackeyed peas (drained)
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 tsp white vinegar
salt, pepper

Sauté onion, garlic, and spices in a little oil until the onions are soft. (Be very careful not to brown the garlic). Add the peas and tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Serve over rice, with soft tortillas or cornbread.

Stove Top Blackeyed Peas

1 1/2 cups dried blackeyed peas
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 small piece salt pork or thick bacon piece

Soak the peas overnight in enough water to cover. Drain them, and add to a large pan or Dutch oven, covering with about 2 1/2 cups hot water. Add other ingredients and stir. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until peas are soft.

Here's another recipe you might like: Black Eyed Pea Soup

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