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New Year’s Day Black Eyed Peas

1 Jan

Happy New Year! We rang in the New Year at a family friend’s house with an adult’s-only party. Yeah. It was fun. The hosts always cook soups and brought the staples – noodles with seafood and veggies, fried rice, cha gio and whatnot. I went American this time around and made these ham and cheese sliders I kept seeing on Pinterest. Pretty good, but need to moderate the butter…

This year I jazzed up usual straightforward Black-Eyed Pea recipe with smoked ham and think this version will be our new go-to.  New Year’s Day has it’s own traditions in my family, and one that I’ve insisted on keeping with my husband. Since our Vietnamese family celebrates the Chinese New Year, there’s no conflict or blending of traditions on this day, which is kinda nice.

Eating Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring prosperity in the new year as a tradition with Southern families (which includes mine). Mom always made this rich stew with a pan of homemade cornbread. I always liked to split the slide of cornbread, slather on the butter and dip in my bowl of beans. Unfortunately I cheated and just picked up a rustic baguette from the grocery store yesterday. Maybe next year I’ll make my first cornbread. A note on shopping – it’s not wise to wait until New Year’s Eve to buy the dried beans. I found a bag on my fourth grocery store stop.

Cheers to a prosperous, joyful, and healthy 2014!

New Year’s Day Smoky Black-Eyed Peas

Serves 4-6

  • 16-oz bag dried black-eyed peas
  • 4 tbl butter
  • 1 onion minced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 1 tomato
  • 32 oz low sodium chicken broth
  • Smoked ham hocks
  • Mushroom seasoning (salt works, too)
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tbl White vinegar

Soak the beans overnight, or if you’re an early riser when you wake up on New Year’s Day. They need to soak for at least 6 hours. Make sure there aren’t any rocks or other stuff in the beans, and rinse with clean water.

In a stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat and add onion, garlic, diced tomato and green chile. Stir well to combine and cook for a few minutes until soft and fragrant. You can also get the Rotel green chile and tomato version and omit the separate tomato. Add 1-2 tablespoons of mushroom seasoning (less if you’re using salt), 2 tsp of cayenne pepper (to taste) and fresh ground pepper.

Add the smoked ham hocks and add the beans, filling in the gaps. Pour in the chicken broth to cover – you may need to add another cup of chicken broth or water as it gets cooking. Definitely look for smoked ham or ham hocks. The smoked flavor adds so much to this dish.

Black eyed peas with smoked ham hock, onion, garlic, and green chile.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 30 minutes and check the liquid level. Some people like their BEPs thick like a mushy stew. Others like it more watery like a soup with beans. We’re like Goldy Locks and like them juuuuuust right. So based on your preference, either uncover for the last 30 minutes or keep covered.

Add more liquid or seasoning if you need to and splash in the vinegar at this point – a tip I saw on the Pioneer Woman – for a little bump in flavor. This makes complete sense as I used to add the vinegar from the little yellow banana peppers growing up. I used 2 tablespoons, but you may like less. Start with less and add more until you get it right.

That’s it! Serve with bread to sop up the yummy broth. Tabasco is a good hot sauce choice because of the vinegar, but use what you like. Go forth and be prosperous!

Black eyed pea stew with smoked ham hock, served with sliced bread and Tabasco hot sauce

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