If you’ve never heard of the black-eyed peas New Year’s Day tradition in the U.S., it’s likely that you’re not very close with people raised in the South. Eating black-eyed peas as the first meal of the year is said to bring good luck and prosperity, according to the Southern folklore.
The peas themselves, pale-colored with an eye on the body that can appear black and brown, are less starchy than most other beans and have a grassy flavor. Southern cooks have doctored them up over the years, so that they make a hearty edition to other staples in region’s cuisine. “In the South, it’s black-eyed peas, pork and collard greens,” Dan Varga, executive chef at Double Comfort in Columbus, Ohio, told the Dispatch newspaper this week. “I’ve got them on the New Year’s Eve menu.”
— Hilah! (@HilahCooking) December 31, 2015
Many black-eyed pea recipes call for cured pork, such as bacon, and other aromatics that help flavor a slightly thick broth that the peas are simmered in. If you are someone who doesn’t eat pork, there are alternative recipes that chefs have claimed are just as flavorful. (Doubt it!)
Here’s an ingredient list for black-eyed peas with bacon, via CooksRecipes.com:
You’ll need 1 pound of dried black-eyed peas, 1 pound of bacon, 1 cup of chopped onions , 1 cup of chopped green peppers , 1 cup of chopped celery , 3 cloves of finely minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt, a 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper, 3/4 of a teaspoon of dried and crushed oregano leaves, a 1/2 teaspoon of dried and crushed thyme leaves, and a 10-ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes.
Here are the cooking instructions:
1. Although many recipes suggest soaking your peas in cold water overnight or for eight hours, black eye-peas do not need to be soaked because they generally cook faster than other beans and with less water. However, rinsing the beans is recommended.
2. In a large, thick bottomed pot, boil 5 cups of water or chicken stock and add the rinsed peas. Let them simmer for 30 minutes.
3. While the peas simmer, cut the bacon into 1-inch size pieces and cook the bacon in a large skillet until the pieces are crisp. Then drain the bacon on a paper towel, reserving two table spoons of bacon grease, and set it aside.
4. With the reserved bacon grease, saute the onions, green peppers, and celery, until the vegetables are soft. Then add the garlic, salt (to taste), black pepper, oregano, thyme and tomatoes. Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the vegetable and spice mixture to the pot of peas and bring it back to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer the peas until they are tender.
6. Stir in the cooked bacon and serve.
If you need a visual aid, here’s an instructional video from Chef Buck of MyFoodChannel.com: