FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 25, 2016 — We’re well past Jan. 1, but it’s still cold and blustery outside in most parts of the United States. And that calls for cold-weather comfort food. Black-eyed peas. Now before you go and turn the page, hear me out.
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. I put about a half of a spoonful in my mouth just to be polite. Instead of a taste I did not care for, flavor burst throughout my mouth as my tongue sent pleasure signals to my brain. It was DELICIOUS! I felt like Sam in “Sam I Am” when he discovers that he likes green eggs and ham!
Oh yes, I could eat them here and there, I could eat these anywhere!
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 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.
Also called cowpeas, they can grow in really dry and drought-affected areas and actually add much needed nitrogen to soil. Their health benefits include Vitamin A, B vitamins, digestion-friendly fiber and potassium, and they are a great source of protein.
Go ahead, give them a try. This makes a lot so you can store some in your freezer for a quick meal some other time. 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
1 can or 15oz. chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
Fry bacon in Dutch oven or large pan until crispy, drain. Add the black-eyed peas to the pan then toss to coat with bacon grease. Chop bacon. Then add to the pot: chicken broth, butter. bacon and a whole lot of salt and pepper. Be aware there is salt in the bacon so you won’t want to add too much. Just keep adding salt and pepper a little at a time until it tastes right to you. Bring 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. 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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