Saturday, January 9, 2016

Bean Pot Black-Eyed Peas






















Black Eyed Peas.  These were a staple in my house growing up.  Mom used to buy them still in the pods and we would spend Sunday afternoons at the tedious task of shelling them.  I always loved them, but for some reason, we don't have them much anymore.  They'd sort of been relegated to New Year's Day fare, and that's a shame, because these babies are tasty and traditional, and a little change of pace as well.

Here's a relatively simple recipe that really brings out the flavor of these beans.  (yes, they are actually beans, not peas)  Black-Eyes have a unique, almost earthy flavor that is accented here with a little smoked ham and a few simple flavorings.

I'm also cooking them in my new bean pot, which my wife got me for Christmas this year.



I've been wanting one for a while.  It's a charming retro cooking vessel that you might say was the world's original crock pot.  It's shape is conducive to long, low and slow cooking.  I'll be featuring it in several more recipes that I've got cooked up for the future.  But first:



Bean Pot Black-Eyed Peas

1 Pound Dried Black-Eyed Peas
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Ounces Smoked Ham, Diced
1 Onion, Diced
4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
4 Cups Beef Stock
1 Can Consommé
1 Teaspoon Thyme

If you remember to do it, soak peas overnight until they have begun to get soft.   Or, if you're like me, and forget to do this the night before, but still want you're black-eyed peas for dinner, there is a 'quick method.'   Boil water in a medium sized pan.  Add peas,



let the boil recover and then boil for two minutes.  Remove from heat and let the peas soak for an hour.



Now they're ready to go.

Dice your onion,



And cube your smoked ham



And sauté them together in the oil.



Note, vegetable oil would be more traditional, but I generally use olive oil for just about everything savory that I cook, but use whichever you like.

After then onions and ham have simmered for 6-8 minutes, add the minced garlic.  Let this go for a minute or two, then add the salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic and onion powders.  Use just a hint of Cayenne if you're not into the heat.  That's what I do when I'm making these for the whole family.  But if it's just for me, I like to turn up the heat.



Also, you might wonder why we're using onion powder and garlic salt



when we've got fresh onion and garlic in the mix.  Well, I find each of these produce different flavor profiles in their fresh and dried forms, and sometimes I like to have both of those in the mix.  Rounds things out, so to speak.

Simmer this for a minute or so, then transfer it all to your bean pot.



Note, if you don't have a bean pot, a decent-sized Dutch oven will work fine.



Drain the black-eyed peas.



Discard the soaking water.  Add the peas to the pot.



Add the consommé.



Add the beef stock.



Finally add the thyme and stir everything up well.

Place in a 425˚F oven for 20 minutes.  After this, reduce the oven temp to 375˚F and cook for an hour and a half.

At this point, the peas should be cooked perfectly.



With a large spoon mash a little bit of the peas up against the side of the pot, then stir this in with the rest.  This will thicken things up and give the beans the proper consistency.

Serve them up hot, maybe with some hot sauce, or 'pepper sauce' if you want that Deep South authenticity.



Until next time,

Happy New Year,


Chris



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