29 December 2009
Lucky Black Eyed Peas
It’s almost New Year’s Day and I have everything ready to put my black eyed peas on the stove. I make them every year as a New Year’s Day tradition. People out in this part of the country ask me "Why?" as if I should know, as if no one in their right mind would cook black eyed peas at all without some special reason.
I suppose eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day is a southern tradition. I’ve read that they are eaten with greens for good luck. The black eyed peas represent coins and the greens, dollar bills. The more you eat the more prosperous your New Year is to be.
Myself, I see it as an opportunity to hover over a warm stove tending a pot of home-style comfort food. This recipe has quite a few ingredients but it is also forgiving and not at all fussy. A few ladlefuls of these black eyed peas over a bed of baby spinach leaves not only makes a nutritious meal but offers the warmth of tradition and the hope of prosperity as well. Who can't use a little more of that these days?
Happy New Year!
New Year's Black Eyed Peas
6 cups water
1 pound dry black eyed peas
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, shredded
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ pound smoked ham hock (I used the bone from our Christmas ham)
1 can diced green chiles and tomatoes (I use Ro-tel)
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon basil, chopped
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 11.5 ounce can tomato or vegetable juice
1 jalapeno pepper, whole
Rinse and sort the dried black-eyed peas. Place them in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover 2 inches above the peas. Cover and let soak overnight.
Next day: Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas in a colander.
In the Dutch oven or soup pot, saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.
Add the black-eyed peas to the onion mixture in the large pot along with the remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour or until tender.
Remove the ham bone and carefully pick over any pork. Separate lean portions into pieces and return them to the pot. Discard fat and bone.
Serve hot over baby spinach leaves. Garnish with avocado chunks and serve with tortilla chips or cornbread, if desired.
Or serve in a shallow bowl over a slice of Basic Italian Polenta with a side of stir-fried Kale (cooked without the sun dried tomatoes and garbanzo beans) .