How to cook black-eyed peas
Learn how to cook black-eyed peas, a comforting soul food offering
A classic Southern side dish, black-eyed peas have become a soul food staple. Slowly and surely creeping its way up North, these little peas, also called the cow pea, are infused with such great flavors that when combined with a simple dish of rice and fried chicken, make any guest happy!
Not only are black eyed peas served as a simple side dish, but they can be used in fritters, soups, casseroles, griddle cakes and stews.
The most important part of cooking black-eyed peas is the soaking of the dry beans. Sure, you can use canned beans, but nothing beats the taste of beans that have soaked and simmered in seasonings for a few hours. Plus, dried beans are 10 times cheaper than canned peas.
Soaking the beans overnight will make cooking a more pleasant event, since the beans will be nice and tender. Their skins will also be easier to peel if needed.
The recipe below is a basic recipe with an added smokiness that develops the flavor even more. You can use your favorite type of bacon for this. Even maple smoked bacon would add a fantastic sweetness to this dish.
Smoky Bacon Black-Eyed Peas
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 pound smoked bacon strips, diced
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 quarts water
4 cups broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the black-eyed peas overnight in water at room temperature.
- The next day, strain the peas and reserve the liquid.
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat and toss in the diced bacon. The fat from the bacon will render and provide with enough oil to coat the pan. Do not discard this fat.
- Add chopped onion and garlic cloves and saute until translucent. Season with liquid smoke, careful to not add too much as the flavor can be overpowering when over-used.
- Pour in the water and broth and let simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, until peas are tender.
- Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Serve alongside a bowl of rice and your favorite Southern staples.
Another classic tradition linked to black-eyed peas is consuming them on or during New Year's day, which is said to give the eater good luck for the coming year. Normally greens are paired with the peas, as a sign of wealth and progress.
Food Network: Paula Deen's Recipe
Eating Well: Black-eyed peas recipes