Black-eyed Peas

A pot of black-eyed peas

While these peas are almost never referred to as “soup beans”, the preparation in the Appalachian region is almost identical. Black-eyed peas, sometimes called blackeye peas, are most common where Appalachian culture intersects with lowland soul-food and coastal food cultures. Like Hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas became common as a dish served on New Year’s Day. However, since rice was not a part of mountain culture, the peas were cooked with pork (usually hog jowls) like soup beans and served with stewed tomatoes and collard greens. This dish becomes less common as one moves into more isolated mountain communities.

I’m back. Life is kind of hectic right now, but I managed to squeeze in a cooking day. The last month has been taken up with moving and painting our new house. We’re still camped in the basement while we finish painting and wait for the floors to be refinished, and there are lots of other projects still to do, but hopefully as we finish some of the projects and I get used to the new kitchen, things will start to feel more normal in a couple weeks.

On to todays recipe. This is my final soup beans variation. Black-eyed peas are more common in lowland areas of the south, but they do get used for soup beans, particularly along the edges of Appalachia where the mountains meet the lowlands.

Wikipedia states that they are usually cooked with hog jowls, but the recipes I looked at mostly used bacon and ham hocks. I think my version is the simplest of my soup bean recipes yet, using only bacon, onion and seasonings along with the beans.

Black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread, stewed tomatoes, cmcaroni and cheese and candied sweet potatoes

Once again I made a whole meal to go with the black eyed peas. To start with I made cornbread again. This time, however, I went with a classic southern, sugar free, all corn recipe. I’ll have to play around with this recipe a little bit, because it turned out quite salty. It is delicious as a base for the beans and greens, but is barely edible on its own.

I made several vegetable sides this week. We had candied sweet potatoes, stewed tomatoes, and collard greens again.

And finally, in the “modern grocery store dishes” category I made macaroni and cheese. Now I suspect that most Appalachian tables would feature Kraft, but since this site is about my recipes, i figured I should do mac and cheese from scratch.

And of course we topped the beans with chow chow and onions again.

Black-eyed peas

Serves: 8
Prep: 20 minutes:
Cook: 1:30-2:00
Total: about 2 hours

16 oz. dry black-eyed peas
3-4 slices bacon
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups water
5 cups chicken broth
⅝ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons cajun seasoning 

Cook 8 ½ hours in slow cooker.
1-2 ham hocks
1 cup smoked turkey sausage
1 stalk celery, diced
3 Tablespoons butter
1 bay leaf
2 ½ cups collard greens, chopped

Cover beans with cold water by 3-4 inches and soak overnight.

Chop your bacon and place in a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot. Place over medium heat and cook until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon, drain on paper towel and set aside. Sauté onion in bacon fat for 10-15 minutes, until well caramelized. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Add water or broth and seasonings and bring to a boil. 

When broth comes to a boil, drain your beans and add them to the pot, along with the bacon. Return to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 90 minutes. Once beans are soft smash some of them against the side of the pot as you stir to help thicken the broth. 

If using the slow cooker, cook your bacon and onions on the stove top before transferring everything to the slow cooker. 

If using optional collard greens, add them about half an hour before serving. 

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