With a creamy texture and a nutty flavor, blackeyed peas are a Southern favorite. And yet, wherever you live, you can still enjoy dish of these tasty legumes by using our recipe for Southern Style Blackeyed Peas.
Despite the name, blackeyed peas are not actually a member of the pea family. These tasty vegetables are actually members of the bean family, also called legumes. Cultivated in the Far East since prehistoric times, even the Greeks and Romans enjoyed blackeyed peas. Eventually, the beans were carried by various people groups to Africa.
When certain people groups were captured in Africa and transported to the West Indies as slaves, they took this dietary staple with them. Soon the descendants of those slaves were taken to plantations in Georgia and South Carolina in the United States. Of course, they brought the seeds for blackeyed peas along. Eventually, all people in these areas began enjoying these nutty-flavored beans with a creamy texture.
Southern Style Blackeyed Peas Recipe
A part of a Southern New Year’s Day tradition, Southern Style Blackeyed Peas are a dish that is filling, warm, and delicious. Featuring creamy blackeyed peas, ham, and some basic spices, this recipe is inexpensive to make and easy to prepare. Even a novice cook can make this tasty dish.
Large Dutch Oven
- 1 pound Dried Blackeyed Peas
- 8 cups Chicken Broth
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups Ham chopped
Pour the blackeyed peas into a colander and rinse them well. Pick through the peas and remove any misshapen peas or bits of dirt or chaff. Rinse the peas again.
Put the rinsed peas into a large Dutch oven. Cover them with about two inches of water. Put the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid, take the pot off the heat, and let the peas sit in the hot water for about an hour.
After the hour is over, drain the water from the peas. Add the chicken broth, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and ham. Set the pot on the stove over medium heat and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, put the lid on the pot, and allow the peas to cook for about two hours. Check on the peas every now and then, stirring them to make sure that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add water a cup at a time if the water begins to cook away.
After the timer is over, serve the blackeyed peas in bowls. Some people like to serve their blackeyed peas over a bed of cooked white rice. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a tightly covered bowl for up to five days.
Blackeyed peas are very nutritious. On their own, they have no fat and no cholesterol. Eating just half a cup of blackeyed peas counts as a serving of protein according to the USDA. These beans are loaded with potassium, iron, and fiber, and they are very satisfying and tasty as well.
People in the South add a variety of things to their blackeyed peas recipes for additional flavoring. Most recipes include garlic, onion, and salt. Additionally, meats like pork jowl, ham hocks, or chopped ham add to the meaty flavor that many people prefer in their blackeyed peas. In some areas, hot sauce or hot peppers are added to give a little extra zing to the blackeyed peas.
According to Southern tradition, blackeyed peas are eaten as a portent of good fortune in the coming new year. Several variations on this theme exist. Some people cook their blackeyed peas with greens and say that the greens represent the paper money one would earn in the next year and the peas represent the coins that one would earn. Often, people serve blackeyed peas with cornbread, which is supposed to represent gold earned in the new year.
Other people believe that for each blackeyed pea that one eats on New Year’s Day, one day of luck is ensured in the upcoming year. This means that each person should eat at least 365 blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day to ensure a full quota of lucky days over the course of the year.
Some people cook a new penny with a pot of blackeyed peas. The person who ends up with the penny in his or her bowl will end up with an extra measure of luck in the New Year.
Food historians think that the practice of eating blackeyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day began during the Civil War. The Confederate troops, lacking supplies when Sherman razed certain areas of the South, had nothing left to eat but the blackeyed peas that the Northern troops ignored, thinking that the fields of blackeyed peas were merely food for livestock. The Southern troops felt that it was fortunate that they had something left to eat, and so the legend of eating blackeyed peas for good luck was born.
You may never be in the position of having nothing but blackeyed peas to eat, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy this delicious and economical dish for dinner tonight.
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