Thursday, 25 August 2016

How to Cook Black Eyed Peas

Black-eyed peas are a symbol of good luck and are considered a traditional course to have on New Year's Day, especially in the southern United States. Here is one traditional method of preparing black-eyed peas.


Makes 8 servings.

  • 1 lb (450 g) dry black-eyed peas

  • 2 cups (450 ml) chopped cooked ham

  • 2 onions

  • 4 plum tomatoes

  • 1 clove garlic

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water

  • 2 bay leaves

Soaking the Beans

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    Rinse the beans. Place the black-eyed peas in a colander and rinse them with cool running water.
    • Rinsing the black-eyed peas removes dirt and stray hulls.
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    Place the beans in a pot of cold water. Make sure that the water covers the black-eyed peas completely, but do not fill the pot so high that it will boil over when heated. Cover with the lid of the pot.
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    Boil the water. Heat the beans and water over medium-high heat until the water reaches a steady boil. Continue boiling for 2 to 3 minutes.
    • Most beans are soaked in cold water for several hours, but black-eyed peas can be soaked in hot water to reduce the amount of time it takes.
    • It is not essential to soak your black-eyed peas, so this step can be skipped if you are short on time. Soaking the beans causes them to become softer, however, and it also helps to reduce the risk of digestive upset.
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    Let stand. Allow the black-eyed peas to sit in the warm water for 60 to 90 minutes.
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    Drain and rinse. Pour the contents of the pot through a colander to remove the stale water. Rinse the black-eyed peas once more with cool water.

Preparing the Other Ingredients

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    Select the best type of ham. For the most traditional flavor, use salty country ham.
    • Black-eyed peas can technically be prepared using nothing more than salt and water. The taste of the beans can be rather dull on their own, however, and it is more traditional to prepare them with pork and certain vegetables.
    • Smoked ham steak makes a good choice when cooking black-eyed peas using the alternative slow cooker method. A ham bone works, as well.
    • Use a sweetened ham, like a honey-baked ham, if you want a sweeter taste.
    • Bacon or pancetta are also popular choices to use when preparing black-eyed peas.
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    Chop the vegetables. The vegetables should be chopped into small pieces with a sharp kitchen knife.
    • Give the onions a rough chop until the pieces are roughly 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) in size. Use a tangier variety, like a white onion or yellow onion, for a heartier taste. Use a sweet onion variety, like a Vidalia onion, for a milder, sweeter taste. You could also use 1/4 cup (120 ml) dried minced onion flakes instead of the whole onions to save time.
    • Dice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) chunks, saving the juice. To save time, you can also use a 12-oz (375 ml) can of diced tomatoes. For a spicier twist, select a can a diced tomatoes with chopped green chili peppers.
    • Place the garlic on your cutting board with the broad, dull side of the knife blade held against it. Carefully yet forcefully smack the knife down to break open the garlic and remove the skin. The garlic can be used this way, or you can also mince the garlic into fine pieces with a knife. Alternatively, you can use 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) of garlic powder, instead.
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    Heat up the ham in oil. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook for 4 minutes or until the edges begin to crisp up, stirring frequently.
    • This step is only optional. You can prepare the beans without crisping up the pork first.

Cooking the Beans

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    Stir the beans into the ham. Add the pre-soaked black-eyed peas to the same stockpot you used to cook the ham. Stir the beans into the ham to coat with the flavored grease.
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    Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaves. Stir the ingredients together until thoroughly mixed.
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    Fill with 4 cups (1 liter) of water. Use cold water.
    • There should be just enough water to cover the beans and vegetables, and the water level should not extend past three-quarters of the stockpot's height. The 4-cup (1-liter) measurement is merely an estimate.
    • If you did not pre-soak the beans, you will need to use twice as much water.
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    Cover and boil. Place the cover over the stockpot and heat the contents of the pot over medium-high to high heat, until the water begins to boil. Cook for 10 minutes.
    • Leave the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape slowly. Doing so relieves pressure inside the pot, lessening the odds of the water boiling over and creating a mess.
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    Reduce heat and cook slowly, adding more water as necessary. Turn the heat down to medium so that the rapid boil slows to a steady simmer. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 hours.
    • You may not need to add more water. If the water level dips below the black-eyed peas, though, add another 1 cup (250 ml) of warm water.
    • Once the beans are done, they should have a soft, creamy taste, and the juice should be flavorful rather than watery. If the beans lose their shape, however, they have been overcooked.
    • Taste the beans after the first hour. If they are not done, continue checking every half hour after that.
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    Add salt and pepper, if desired. After the beans have finished cooking, remove the stockpot from the heat and add any salt and pepper you want. Stir the beans to thoroughly incorporate the salt and pepper.
    • Roughly 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) of black pepper should suffice, but you can add more or less depending on how hot you prefer things.
    • If you used salted ham, additional salt may not be necessary. For low-sodium hams, however, you may wish to add 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) or so.
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    Discard the bay leaves and serve. Fish out the bay leaves before pouring the beans into individual serving dishes using a ladle.

Alternative Cooking Method

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    Prepare the ingredients as usual. Soak the black-eyed peas and chop up the vegetables.
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    Add the ingredients to the slow cooker. Toss the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ham, and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and cook on high for 90 minutes or on low for 3 hours.
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    Throw out the bay leaves and serve. Turn off the slow cooker and dig out the bay leaves. Serve the black-eyed peas while still hot.

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