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Traditional New Year’s Day recipe: Black-eyed peas

Written By | Dec 29, 2017

FORT WORTH, Texas December 29, 2017: The New Year is two days away which means it’s time to make black-eyed peas! In the American South these legumes, along with greens and cornbread are a New Year’s Day staple.

Black-eyed peas? Now before you think, “Blech!” and turn the page, hear me out.

Pharaohs, maharajahs and common folk all ate this humble legume

I’ve never been a fan of black-eyed peas. Never did eat them except a spoonful on New Year’s Day. Then my dear friend, Rose Author, brought them to a party we both attended. Taking about a half of a spoonful to be polite and expecting to shudder at the bland grit expected, flavor burst throughout my mouth as my tongue sent pleasure signals to my brain!

It was DELICIOUS! I felt like Sam I Am when he discovered that he really does like green eggs and ham! Oh yes, I could eat them here and there — I could eat these anywhere!




Black-Eyed Peas, Greens, and Cornbread; New Year’s Feast for Good Luck (Anokarina/Flickr)

 

Black-eyed peas are found all over the world and have been around a long time. Pharaohs, maharajahs and common folk all ate these humble legumes. They came to the New World in slave ships. During the American Civil War, after Sherman’s March to the Sea, all the food was gone. The Union Army took or ate all the livestock, grains and other food — except the black-eyed peas stored in grain silos.

Legend has it that Northerners didn’t think much of them and left them behind. The death toll in the South would have been much higher if not for them.

Health benefits of black-eyed peas include Vitamin A, B vitamins, digestion-friendly fiber and potassium, and they are a great source of protein.

Also called cowpeas, they can grow in really dry and drought-affected areas and actually add much-needed nitrogen to the soil. Their health benefits include Vitamin A, B vitamins, digestion-friendly fiber and potassium, and they are a great source of protein.

Sherman’s March to the Sea, 1864

Go ahead, give them a try. This recipe makes a lot so you can store some in your freezer for a quick meal for another cold wintry night. Add cornbread to go with it and you have a delicious meal.

•Rose’s Black-eyed Peas•

3 bags frozen black-eyed peas*
½ to 1 pound Wright’s Applewood Smoked Bacon – your choice
1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter
2 cans or 15oz. chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Fry bacon in Dutch oven or large pan until crispy, drain. Next, add the black-eyed peas to the pan then toss to coat with bacon grease. Chop the bacon.

Then add to the pot: chicken broth, butter, and bacon. Be aware there is salt in the bacon so you won’t want to add too much; just keep adding the salt and pepper a little at a time until it tastes right to you.

Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stir to make sure beans are not sticking to the bottom of the pan and then lower temperature to a simmer; peas can also be put into a crock-pot on low heat. Cook until peas are soft. It’s best to make this a day ahead so the flavors meld much better. Enjoy!



*1 lb. black eyed peas = 2 to 2 1/2 cups dried
*1 lb. = 5 to 6 cups cooked (canned)
*1 cup = 7 oz. dry, 2 1/2 cups

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Claire Hickey

Claire Hickey was born the last year of the Baby Boom and spent the first half of childhood in Chicago. She has always loved to write but wanted to create pieces worth reading. Her curiosity and love of research lead her to create her column based on the “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought-provoking pieces that enrich her readers. She also believes life is a banquet and loves to learn new things. Her professional pedigree includes Cosmetology, Surgical Technology, and the Culinary Arts. When not working she loves to spend time with family and friends. She lives in Fort Worth.