Thursday, December 28, 2006

Black-eyed peas for New Year's Day

My first New Year's Day in New York City, I was panic struck: where was I going to find my annual dose of black-eyed peas? Not having any of the ingredients on hand and with all the stores closed, I was afraid I'd spend 1996 poor and unfortunate. Call me superstitious, but I reckon I need all the help I can get. So after much wandering around the Upper West Side, with only slice joints and the occasional Chinese take-out open for business, a friend suggested we go to Harlem.

But of course! Being new to the city, I hadn't visited Harlem yet because it still had a bad reputation (that would, fortunately, soon be reversed). But if I didn't have my black-eyed peas for wealth and luck, I was certain to be doomed. So we decided to take a chance and go to Sylvia's.

Well, the first two taxis refused to take us there (because Harlem was considered dangerous—sheesh!) but once we finally arrived, all was well: Harlem wasn't scary, Sylvia's was warm and welcoming, and we all had our fill of slow-cooked black-eyed peas dripping with peppers and bacon. And I became a frequent visitor to Harlem's excellent soul food restaurants—everything from church kitchens to the all-you-can-eat buffets with the diners and fine dining establishments thrown in for good measure. But I'm not here to talk about Harlem, I'm here to talk about black-eyed peas.

This southern staple has nourished me my whole life. My grandparents grow them on their farm and nary a dinner is complete without a heaping bowl of the legumes. Of course, I'm a bit biased when I say the black-eyed-peas from Chambersville, TX are the best, but there is something about terroir—it's just as important for peas as it is for grapes. Unfortunately, they weren't able to harvest any this year due to drought, but hopefully we'll get a big haul next year. In the meantime, I can buy some at Whole Foods.

They're not only healthy for both your body and the earth (the plants release nitrogen and some farmers plant them just to enrich the soil) but they're tasty and versatile to cook with as well. You can serve them chilled with peppers in a dish called Texas caviar, you can form them into savory cakes, you can fry them up as croquettes or you can make a traditional hot pot flavored with bacon and onions.

So if you need that extra push of good fortune in 2007, consider eating some black-eyed peas on Monday. Do they work? I have no idea, but let's just say, the one year I didn't eat them on New Year's Day I broke my wrist skiing. Ouch! Suffice to say, I never made that mistake again!

Big pot of black-eyed peas
Ingredients:
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
4 cups water
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1/4 cup bacon drippings
1 large onion, chopped
14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, such as Rotel, drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapenos (pickled or fresh), chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Wash and pick over peas. In a large pot, mix peas with water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Add all other ingredients and simmer, covered, 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until peas are tender.

Texas caviar
Ingredients:
4 cups of cooked black-eyed peas (or 2 16-oz cans), drained and rinsed of all juice
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, green part only
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 canned or fresh jalapeño chiles, chopped
1 can Rotel tomatoes or 1 ripe, chopped tomato
3/4 cup olive oil
Juice from one lime
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced

Method:
Mix everything together, chill for four hours. Serve with tortilla or corn chips.

What do you do with black-eyed peas? And what do you eat on New Year's Day? Happy New Year!

Related Stories Widget by LinkWithin

36 comments:

Yvo said...

That sounds delish. Have a happy new year, Lisa!

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Just had some black-eyed peas the other day, the first in ages, in a little restaurant we found en route to our place in Aplachicola. They were okay, but this version sounds much better. Where were you when I needed you?

Happy New Year!

suburban housefrau said...

mmmm, have to go to mom's and get my black eyed pea on!

BTW, we had tamales and enchiladas for Christmas dinner! yum!

Kristen said...

Texas caviar is one of my favorite things! Happy New Year to you!

vlb5757 said...

I am so glad to see that the Texan way of celebrating New Year's is alive and well in NYC. We always have a ham, black eyed peas, greens and candied yams. Even being this far away from home, those traditions give me comfort when I can't be with my Texas family. Have a Happy Texas inspired New Year!

Homesick Texan said...

Yvo--Same to you--and good luck with your southern pot luck. I can't wait to hear about it!

Christine--I reckon I was in Oregon, but you can still have black-eyed peas on Monday--when it really counts.

Suburban Housefrau--What a wonderful Christmas dinner! Did y'all make the tamales and enchiladas?

Kristen--It is indeed a yummy dish. And always a crowd pleaser!

Vickie--That's the magic of food--you can eat it anywhere and instantly be transported.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Sean said...

We'll be doing lentils instead (it's the Italian version). But you're not alone in your black-eyed pea-ness. (Ooh, that's an uncomfortable word.)


Check it out.

Homesick Texan said...

Sean--May you have much hap-pea-ness in the new year. And thanks for the the link!

Anonymous said...

At my way-down-south house, it's done this way...

New Year's Eve

One pound dried black-eyed peas

1. Sort and rinse peas in cold water.

2. Place in large pan and cover with water. Allow peas to soak overnight; drain.


New Year's Day

1 pound bacon (or hog jowls)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 (10-ounce) can RoTel brand tomatoes (or make your own using fresh tomatoes and fresh chilies)

1. In Dutch oven, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add peas and simmer for 1/2 hour.

2. Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. Cook in large skillet until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels ; set aside.

3. In about 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, saute onion, green pepper, celery until vegetables have softened. Add garlic, seasonings and tomatoes.
Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mixture to the peas. Bring to a boil ; reduce heat and simmer until peas are tender.

Makes 8 servings.

Oh...and don't forget the collard greens, cracklin' (as in cornbread) and rice that go with it.

Around the world, New Year's Day is celebrated in very different ways.

In fact, it's the oldest celebration known to humankind.

http://www.novareinna.com/festive/atw.html


Dave
Planted in Atlanta

Anonymous said...

That should have been:

2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Sorry...it's actually the first time I ever posted to a blog.
I even previewed it a bunch of times

Dave
Planted in Atlanta

Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nicole said...

I'm having problems leaving a comment today! Happy New Year (sorry if it shows up three times)!!

Julie said...

Yum! These are great-looking black-eyed peas -- know I'm going to have to try some soon. Do you ever make Hoppin' John? All good things to you in the new year...

Sean said...

Heh -- that reminds me of an apocryphal story I heard once regarding Mme De Gaulle upon the retirement of her husband. And English-speaking reporter asked her what she most looked forward to in retired life, to which she responded, "I most look forward to a penis." After an awkward pause, her husband replied, "it is pronounced happiness."

Tammy W said...

Native Texan here. Live further west now, but we still have blackeyed peas (for luck) AND cabbage (for money) every New Year's day. I prefer using frozen blackeyeds as they taste more like fresh ones. Seasoned with fresh garlic, onion, ham, dried red chili, salt. (They're on cooking at this very minute.) Cabbage will be chopped for a crunchy slaw. And because we're having peas, we must also have cornbread...preferably made with buttermilk and baked in a cast iron skillet. Love your blog. Happy New Year!

Homesick Texan said...

Dave--I'm honored that your first ever blog comment was here...cool! And your recipe sounds delish. You can never go wrong with a recipe that calls for Rotel and bacon. And yep, cornbread is mandatory.

Nicole--No worries, Blogger can be cantankerous at times. Happy New Year to you, too!

Julie--I've never made Hoppin' John because we usually eat our black-eyed peas with corn chips or cornbread, but I reckon it's something I'd enjoy. All good things to you, too, in the new year!

Sean--Thanks for the giggle! I read this to my friends and we're all cracking up--oh, golly--the perils of a foreign language!

Tammy--Thank you! Sounds like you have an excellent New Year's Day meal planned. And yes, cornbread should ALWAYS be made in a cast-iron skillet.

Lisa said...

Since it's just me this year (my son told me he didn't LIKE black-eyed peas, the little savage!), I used canned black-eyed peas and doctored them up with onion, bacon, and a little Rotel, and served them over rice. I also had some yummy cabbage and cornbread. Mmmm. So I'm ready for my good luck in 2007!

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

I had my peas and greens on new years~ for luck and fortune. I would hate to imagine if I hadn't been eating them for all this time.
Sean that was funny!

Ivonne said...

What a lovely story. I'm glad you got your black-eyed peas for New Year's Eve! All the best in 2007!

Homesick Texan said...

Lisa--How can your son not like black-eyed peas? How sad for him.

Sandi--I know how you feel--I wonder what my luck and finances would be like if I didn't eat right on New Year's Day.

Ivonne--Thank you! All the best to you too.

bea at la tartine gourmande said...

Oh, I like so much to visit and discover foods I do not know so well. The cuisine of Texas, or the South that I want to know more about! Thank you!

Your Mom Prints Zines said...

Black eyed peas for luck, greens for wealth, and cornbread because it tastes good with the first two!

Hungry Houstonian in Upstate NY said...

We always had black-eyed peas on New Years day. And they always had a dime in them. Supposedly, whoever got the dime in their serving was going to be extra lucky that year.

It's a wonder none of us ever choked to death. :P

Sam said...

Thanks for the recipe. I am going to make this tomorrow. We need a change of fortune ;)

Despite being away for the holidays and no shopping for over 2 weeks I just happen to have nearly every ingredient in the house (even the bacon fat and everything local, to boot including local peas and home canned local tomatoes) the jalapeños are the only thing I am missing but some extra chili powder or a dried pepper should probably do the trick

Susan said...

I'm originally from Virginia living north of Boston. So much of this sounds so familiar! The coffee can of bacon grease, pecan trees growing in my grandparents' yard, chess pies (chocolate chess is the best!), and definitely black eyed peas on New Year's Day. My mom always put stewed tomatoes in there. One year when I hadn't eaten with them and was going out on a date at night, she insisted I bring along a tupperware container of them!!

Kassy said...

LOVE the Texas Caviar... I have to say, I cheat when I make it. Canned black-eyed peas w/ jalepenos, cilantro, ro-tel, lime juice, bell pepper, and low-fat zesty italian salad dressing.

Anonymous said...

My momma insists on Black eyes peas on new years day. Bless her heart!

Michelle Stiles said...

MMMmmmm... I made some black eyed peas for Election Day (I think it might have worked...) and turned the left overs into Texas Caviar. My new favorite dip! When I ran out of chips I used a spoon! Thank you. A great way to get our fill of Texas as we are so far away from home!

lovestocook said...

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I am all teary eyed reading this, my dad loved this, he has been gone for two years now. He was from
Gainesville, I was born in Ft. Worth, and my mom is from Desdemona. I cannot quite claim homesick Texan, because I have lived in Colorado since I was 3. I love your blog! love the recipes and recollections as well.

esther nelson said...

I don't know about greens, but the "tradition" of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's Day was INVENTED (yes, invented) by ELMORE TORN in 1947 (yes, 1947) in Texas.

You've been duped.

Here's the true story: http://www.texasescapes.com/CFEckhardt/The-Great-Blackeyed-Pea-Hoax.htm

Torn was an enterprising guy, stuck with canned peas and found a way to get rid of them and have a good laugh besides.

However, everyone loves the "tradition" anyway, and I must admit, I'll be eating them today also.

Anonymous said...

My husband thought I was crazy when I insisted that I had to have blacked eyed peas for New Years. It was a tradition my Mid-Western Daddy started about 5 years before he died. He'd have them in a crock pot and even though I hated the taste at the time he would make me eat at least 2 spoonfuls. I miss him so much...and this tradition helps keep his memory with me!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where to buy smoked hog jowl in DFW area?

Dennis
dr0413@aol.com

susie b said...

I'm reading this after the fact...so to speak. Just wanted to say a most emphatic -AMEN- to the black-eyed pea thing!! It's tough -- I'm a displaced Texas living in East Central Illinois where everything begins and end with soybeans and corn. However, last summer with the help of a sympathetic farmer friend, I was able to dig up a garden spot in my backyard and plant BLACK-EYED PEAS!!! There was great reverence for the first pot, carefully tended and then devoured. Best food I've eaten since I was home in Texas for some of my mama's BEPs
Enjoy your blog to the max!

Eleanor said...

These are AMAZING.

I made a double batch and froze half of it....which I had to thaw out yesterday because I was craving them again!

I ended up adding 2 more cups of water than the recipe called for because after I boiled the peas there was barely any water left in the pot and I definitely wasn't going to be able to cook them for another hour or so without burning them.... my finished product was the consistency of a black eyed pea stew when i was done cooking it. maybe i cooked the peas too long? They don't seem like they are too mushy.
it still tastes amazing though!

Randle said...

I just made this recipe for the big pot of beans, and they're killer! I added some dried cayenne peppers from the last hurrah of peppers in October (I'm in Waco) and they are perfectly spicy. Love the addition of bacon grease too.

Anonymous said...

Every year, I host a New Year's Day party where I serve about 120 people Hoppin John and Collards in my home. My mom started this family tradition back in the early 70's, and I have picked it up and have hosted at my house for 8 years now. Always a lot of fun to start the year off eating Hoppin' John with friends!

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated to avoid spam. And if you don't have a blog, please leave your name as it makes it friendlier that way!