Saturday, January 02, 2010

Traditional but not Ordinary

I have never tasted black-eyed peas like those served at yesterday’s New Year’s open house.  They were little bursts of flavor that seemed way too upscale for one of the staples of the South.

The open house is an annual affair at my good friend Betty’s penthouse overlooking Georgetown.  She is the hostess with the mostness who has enough money to have it catered.  Every year there are some predictable standards, but also some new dishes which are a complete surprise.

It’s mostly finger food or something that can be eaten off a Chinese soup spoon.  The black-eyed peas were served as little spoonfuls that just melted in your mouth.

It would have been terribly uncouth to eat a dozen or so little spoonfuls, so instead I had to content myself with just a couple and the determination to make my own version of black-eyed peas today.

I found what looked like a good recipe online and bought the ingredients I didn’t already have.  Fortunately I still had CSA black-eyed peas. 

My favorite sous-chef helped chop the onions, red pepper, garlic, carrot, and fennel while I browned the chicken sausage.  Unfortunately I had neglected to read how long the pot of peas had to simmer, so we will be eating a fashionably late dinner tonight.

Here’s the recipe:

Black-Eyed Pea Stew with Sausage

3 tablespoons of Canola oil

1 pound mild chicken sausage
 (in casing)
1 yellow onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, sliced and diced
½ fennel bulb, diced

1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced fine

1 – 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
2 cups of dried black-eyed peas

4 cups of chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small bunch of cilantro

Soak the peas by covering them with water for 6 hours before starting this recipe. This is not necessary, but will greatly shorten the cooking time.

Heat up a large soup pot or one of those nice cast iron casserole pots if you have one on medium high heat. Add the oil and wait until it gets hot enough to shimmer but not smoke. Add the sausages and cook until they are brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pot and transfer to a large plate or bowl.

Next you want to brown the onion, bell pepper, fennel, carrot, and garlic in the same pot. There should be enough oil and fat from the sausage to cook them nicely. Be sure to move the vegetables around so they don’t burn. This should take 5 to 8 minutes depending on your stove top and pot.

Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook down for about 5 minutes. Now you add the washed black-eyed peas and chicken stock. Bring this to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the black-eyed peas begin to get tender. This will take 60-90 minutes depending on whether or not you soaked the peas.

Slice the reserved sausage on the diagonal into ½ inch slices and add them to the pot.  Be sure to add the accumulated juices from the sausages you find on the plate. It adds lots of additional flavor.

Taste the stew and add the salt and pepper to taste.  (I didn't add any salt or pepper and the seasoning was fine.) Chop and add about ¼ cup of the fresh cilantro to the pot and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Stew is ready.


Blogger Rayna said...

Looks and sounds divine - how did it taste?

11:27 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

It was every bit as good as the black-eyed peas on a spoon. In fact I joked to my husband that perhaps Betty would let us cater next year!

I did not put in any salt or pepper and the flavor was still quite good.

I had soaked the black-eyed peas so it didn't take as long to cook as the recipe indicated.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

That recipe sounds delicious - I love blackeyed peas! They are a traditional good luck food for New Year's Day. We had Hoppin' John at the brunch we went to.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Mary L. Tabor said...

Gotta make this. I love this post!

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to make this, too! My partner and I made Hoppin' John on New Year's day, even though I was ill and not in the mood to eat anything. :-)


2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Do you remember where you got the recipe? I'd like to be able to attribute it properly :-)


2:48 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- The original recipe came from here, but I changed it in several significant ways, as you will notice.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks! I'll try your version next New Year's!


3:23 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- Don't wait until New Year's. There's nothing magical about January 1. I made it on January 2 and it was still fine. Besides, if you make it when you are feeling better, you can enjoy it sooner! :)

3:45 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Like any good fellow Floridian, I love some black-eyed peas! I hope these come out well! I was telling Dave about the tradition of having black-eyed peas on New Year's Day -- he'd never heard of it. Guess it's not a common thing in Michigan!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Rayna said...

If I can find a way around the sausage (DH does not eat sausage and I don't do chicken unless it is an emergency), I will make this dish when we get back from Florida.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Rayna -- I think you could probably leave out the sausage entirely or replace it with fish added at the last minute so that it wouldn't overcook. I may experiment with this idea since I'm not so crazy about meat these days either.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

You make me want to make black-eyed peas. That looks fabulous!

10:41 AM  
Blogger Mary L. Tabor said...

I made the soup last night and did not remove the sausage after I sauteed it because I had precooked chicken sausage; don't see why you need to that anyway unless you are draining out the fat as the mirapois (carrots--used three, garlic, onion) if chopped well (did mine in food processor) cook fast; I didn't have the fennel but had a bunch of arucola and threw that in with the cilantro and yes it helped to soak the peas:

Delicious and easy to make!

9:32 AM  

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