Happy New Year! Are you feeling lucky?
Black Eyed or Blackeye Peas are a popular dish to eat and welcome in the New Year. Folklore has it that Blackeye Peas (actually legumes, or beans) represent coins and encourage prosperity for the coming year. The beans, often accompanied by leafy greens such as spinach, kale or collard greens, represent money, and cornbread which symbolizes gold, are enjoyed on New Years Day by many different cultures.
Not too soupy or complex, this spicy, basic preparation is my favorite way to enjoy Blackeye Peas. I hope that you will welcome the new year with a comforting bowl of Spicy Black Eyed Peas, too!
Ingredients for Spicy Black Eyed Peas:
8 ounces dry Blackeye Peas (about 1 cup)
2 pieces thick cut bacon, chopped
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1 diced jalapeno pepper
4 cloves minced garlic
2 – 3 cups chicken broth/stock
salt & pepper to taste
Makes about 4 cups beans. Dry Blackeye Peas need to be sorted and soaked overnight (at least 8 hours). After soaking, 1 cup Blackeye Peas will swell to about 3 cups. For extra spiciness, do not discard all seeds and membrane from jalapeno before dicing. The more seeds and membrane from the jalapeno, the spicier your beans will be. Fresh cracked black pepper added at the end of cooking process also lends spiciness.
PREPARE THE BEANS:
1) Rinse and sort beans.
2) To 1 cup beans, add 4 cups clean cold water. Cover and allow to soak overnight, at least 8 hours.
3) After soaking, drain water and rinse beans.
COOK THE BEANS:
1) In a large pot, saute the chopped bacon over medium heat until golden and crisp. Remove cooked bacon from pot and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in the pot.
2) To the drippings, add diced onion, celery, carrot, red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Saute 5-10 minutes over medium heat until softened.
3) Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic and blackeye peas. Stir gently.
4) Raise the heat to high and and add the chicken broth slowly, just until mixture is covered with liquid. You may not need all 3 cups broth.
5) Bring to a gentle boil, stirring carefully as not to break up the beans.
6) Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer about an hour or until beans are desired tenderness. Check the beans and stir gently periodically to make sure the liquid level just covers the beans.
7) Season with fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste.
8) Top with bacon pieces and serve piping hot with a fresh spinach salad and cornbread for extra fortune in the new year.
Happy New Year!