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. You may choose to discard the soaking water or not. Everyone has a preference. I don’t bother, especially if I am cooking peas or beans in a slow cooker… another option for the simmer stage.
Yes, it is just fine to use canned beans. Three 15 oz cans work well. 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 and do not need the extra liquid. Also reduce total cooking time to one hour as that works well to marry the flavors.
Black-eyed peas are not salt sensitive The salt from the ham and bacon will not stop the cookery process.
The total simmer time for the peas will be about 1 1/2 hours. 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. You can also cook the peas in the morning and then keep them tightly covered in the fridge until it’s time to make dinner.
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 so folks can make it hot to suit their own tastes.
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). Magic Chicken, Magic Meat, or Magic Vegetable seasonings all work well. Use what you have.
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, stirring frequently, 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 to the lowest setting, cover the pot with the lid slightly tilted to allow a little steam to escape, and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the peas are tender. Stir every now and then to make sure the peas do not stick to the bottom. If they begin to break down, remove the pot from heat, tightly cover, and let things sit warm until dinner.
Use the back of the wooden spoon to smash up a few peas to serve as 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, cabbage pan sauteed in butter, or serve up a tasty side of sauteed broccolini.