4 oz bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 oz ham, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 cup celery, chopped – include some of the delicious leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, deseeded, and minced
2 t Creole seasoning mix
1 t dried thyme
3/4 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
2 bay leaves
1 pound black-eyed peas, sorted, rinsed, and soaked
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
Water as needed
Garnish: sliced green onion
Spoon Mage™ Note:
Why is this Creole and not Cajun? The tomatoes! Cajuns did not have access to fancy foods like tomatoes unless they grew them. Basil is used to accent the tomatoes.
Yes, you can reduce the meat until it is more of an accent than a main feature. I suggest using four slices of bacon and 2 ounces of ham.
To make the dish vegetarian, eliminate the meat, replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock, increase the vegetables, and add a little (about 1/2 teaspoon) smoky paprika.
Always sort through dried peas and beans – they grow in dirt and sometimes little stones get harvested with the peas. Stones are not tasty. After sorting, rinse well.
These peas cook up a little quicker than many dried beans. Choose either the overnight soaking or the fast soak method (see the package). Both methods are fine. After the soaking, discard the water before adding the cooking liquid.
Yes, you can use canned beans. Three 15 oz cans will be fine. Drain the beans from the can, place them in a colander, and rinse them well to remove excess salt (there’s plenty in the bacon and ham). Reduce the liquid to only 2 cups of stock. The beans are already plumped up. Also reduce total cooking time to one hour.
Black-eyed peas are not salt sensitive like other dried beans. The salt from the ham and bacon will not stop the cookery process.
The total simmer time for the peas will be about 1 to 1 1/2 hour. You can keep them warm on the lowest possible setting for a longer period of time, but do check often to stir and remove it from heat before too many peas break up.
To make this a spicier dish, increase the jalapenos or add some dashes of Tabasco or hot red pepper flakes to taste – or just serve sliced jalapenos at the table.
If you don’t have the necessary to make your own Creole spice mixture, try a ready-made mixture such as Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning (my go-to instant deliciousness brand).
If you wish to use a ham bone or ham hock, cook it in a bit of stock and water for an hour or so before adding the peas. Bones need more time to season the liquid and the peas will become overcooked if you try to do it all together.
You may use all stock or all water for the cooking liquid. I often use a little of both.
In a large pot set over medium-high heat, cook up the bacon and ham until both develop lovely browned bits. If your bacon does not have much fat, add a tablespoon of olive oil.
Add the onion, green pepper, and celery. Stir frequently. Scrape the spoon along the bottom of the pan to loosen the delicious browned bits of meat that may be stuck to the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and jalapeno. Stir for 2 minutes.
Add the seasoning mix, thyme, oregano, basil, and bay leaves. Stir for 1 minute.
Add the drained peas, tomatoes, and chicken stock.
Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat until the peas cook in a slow simmer. Cover the pot with the lid slightly tilted to allow a little steam to escape, and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the peas are tender.
Use the back of the spook to smash up a few peas to provide a thickening agent. If too much liquid evaporated, add a little bit of water until the peas have a nice slightly thickened liquid appearance just perfect for serving over the traditional converted rice. Enjoy with a green salad or a nice side of sauteed broccolini.