January 01, 2008

Black-eyed peas

Greetings all. Here it is Jan. 01, I'm not calling this a "resolution", per se, but I've been meaning to bet more active on this blog. So, camera or no camera, I can still write, which was my primary purpose to begin with.
In our family, it's been a tradition for years to begin each new year with black-eyed peas. I've heard that eating black eyed peas on New Year's day brings good luck. I have to confess, I love 'em. I look forward to it every new years. I used to take a bowl to our pastor, but since we've moved, I pretty much enjoy them on my own. Every year, it varies slightly, depending on what I have on hand, but the basics stay pretty much the same. Here's how I made them this year, (which happened to be the best batch to date.)

1 lb. dried black eyed peas
1 ham bone (or 2 hocks)
2 roasted poblano chiles, seeded & diced.
1 onion, diced.
1 can tomato sauce
worcestershire sauce (couple-three turns of the pot)
couple shakes of pepper sauce
salt & pepper to taste

First, you want to soak the black eyed peas overnight. Sort the peas and pick out anything that doesn't look good. Then cover them with about 3-4 times more water than peas. In the morning, drain and rinse them. Now, the ham. If you're using hocks, put them in the empty pot. I use a 4 qt. enameled cast iron pot. If you're using a ham bone, you might have to see if there's room for both the bone and the peas! If you don't have room, cut off as much ham as you can, chop it into bite-sized chunks, and put that in the pot. Wrap the bone and save it in the freezer for split pea soup. If you do have enough room for all of it, so much the better.
Now the peas have drained, put them in on top of the ham. Add onions, chiles, tomato sauce, worcestershire, pepper sauce, and salt & pepper. Stir all that up, and turn up the heat to bring everything to a boil. Let it boil, for about 5-10 minutes, then turn it down to a simmer, and cover.
After about 2 hours, if you used either hocks, or the ham bone, take them out and put on a cutting board. When they're cool enough to handle, cut off any meat, and return it to the pot.
Continue to simmer until the peas are tender. The way I make mine, they're just a step above mushy. Yesterday, I had them on the stove for several hours, probably 4-5 hours, so don't get impatient. They just take time, like most good things.
I don't know if they've ever brought me luck, but they always taste good, and for me, that's better than luck.

Happy New Year, all.

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