Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Bean Primer: Black- Eyed Peas







You have heard me talk about how much I love beans. There has been been a song written about this magical food. I don't repeat it.

For the next several week, I want to give you all my trustworthy bean cooking tips and recipes.

You're welcome.

I'm not sure how long I can keep this up. I cook beans every week, but frankly I might get tired and want to share recipes for everything I know about..say...turnips.

I don't know much. So that will be a short series if it happens. Don't get me wrong...I like them. I just don't cook them 42 ways.

Beans. This week I want to share a New Year's Tradition in some parts of the country. Now I, myself, am a hillbilly. I never remember eating Black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Until. We moved to the Mississippi Delta. Our first New Year's there we went to a party and among the chicken wings and little smokies was a bowl full of black-eyed peas.

I was honestly thinking, "One of these things is not like the other." Don't get me wrong. Beans, in general, are the hillbilly's national food. But I've embraced tradition (at least most years) and have started fixing blacked-eyed peas on New Years...even though we've made our way back to the hills of my forefathers. Those hills being the Ozarks. My forefathers being perfectly respectable hillbillies.

I'm telling you that this is the only way to cook them. I am sure a little old southern grandma somewhere in Mississippi could school me, but this recipe won't steer you wrong.

You don't have to soak black-eyed peas like you do other beans. I put a few inches of water of my beans and let it boil just a few minutes.


While that was going on I chopped up a couple of stalks of celery (weeds and all), an onion and a few cloves of garlic. Don't waste those celery weeds!


You can cook these beans without any ham or meat protein, but I think it just adds something.  Traditionally, I believe that salt pork is used. I got this package of ham slices and pieces because (a) I forgot the ham bone I was going to take home at the in-laws house from Christmas and (b) I am planning on using this ham for a few more meals. You don't need much. Just roughly chop some up.


After my beans boiled a few minutes, I drained them in a colander and picked out all the rough looking beans.


I then put my onions and celery in a pot with a little drizzle of olive oil and sauteed them until they were just a little browned. Notice my rather worn wooden spoon. You will be pleased to know that this poor fella has been relieved of duty and I purchased a nice, new set of wooden spoons at T.J Maxx.


 I then added my beans and my garlic. You can see the ham in the picture below. Don't put it in quite yet. You need to give your beans a good toast. I also added some pepper, just a bit of salt and thyme. I just stirred and toasted everything up.


I want to talk about my chicken seasoning. MSG does strange things to me so I like to use this stuff I got at a Mennonite Grocery Store. I make my own when I can, but I don't have any room to store anything. We live in a small space and it takes quite a bit of effort to store the basics. Don't even ask me about toilet paper!

The thing is is that I also add my chicken seasoning to the beans while I am toasting. You don't have to do this. I am not even sure if it makes a difference. It just seems fancy. And that's what I always go for.  Fancy. This particular brand calls for 2 tsp. per 1 cup of water. I used 6 tsp. total.



A shout out to my mom-in-law who got me this adorable Rachael Ray Olive Oil Dispenser for Christmas. Love it! It's red. Need I say more?


After the I felt the beans were nice and toasted (just a few minutes or so), I put the ham in and then 4 cups of water. If you are using chicken stock now would be the time to add it. I set the temp a little lower and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.


Now there are some good beans!


And there you have it. A yummy bowl of black-eyed peas. Guaranteed to chase away all those chilly winter blues.

Here is a more detailed recipe. Such as it is. You can see that I care more about making it cute than I do about giving you any usual information.



Hope you enjoy! Next week I'll be sharing a hillbilly standard. My husband's favorite White Beans and Ham.





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