Happy 2012 to you and yours! 2011 has been quite the year for us, comprising of another cookbook mention, a local avocado takedown, several interviews, a dozen more Ethnic Explorations under our belt, and much more. Of course, not to forget all the wonderful food we’ve cooked, tasted, and shared in the last 365 days. We’re excited for the new ventures and developing prospects to come for us in 2012. In the meantime, here’s a perfect recipe to ring in the new year!
Right now as I type this, Chrystal is literally partying her life away in Barcelona, Spain with two of our close friends. No doubt she is eating some incredible meals, making new friends, and, as we like to say, “doing the most” in the streets of España. I’m here in sunny SoCal enjoying a quieter, more relaxing New Year’s celebration. And one that involves a Southern tradition–black-eyed peas. Notable in the Southeast, one is supposed to dine on a bowl of black-eyed peas every New Year’s Day, supposedly bringing you a year of greater luck and prosperity. We’ll clearly take more of both, please!
Just a couple months ago we announced we were finalists in the Alexia Foods “Reinvent a Classic” French Fry Challenge, having our Herbs de Provence and Garlic Sweet Potato Fries compete to be produced and sold nationwide (voting is still open folks, and all you have to do is make one click here after ‘Liking’ Alexia’s Facebook page). Anyhow, this opportunity allotted us the privilege to meet and interview Tyler Florence, where we were given a copy of his latest cookbook, Family Meal. In it, there is a black-eyed pea recipe with nods to his Southern roots. I had to try out this version for myself, which adds in stewed tomatoes and fresh herbs. It was so simple to throw together, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I licked my bowl clean once it was all done. The whole dish had a deep level of flavor and richness to it, with the tomatoes adding a pleasant amount of sweetness. I didn’t want to use a ham hock this time, which is common in black-eyed peas, so I instead threw in some kielbasa sausage and bacon bits. Even though it’s technically not New Year’s Day anymore, I’m sure it’s early enough in the year for this superstitious tradition to still work its magic, ensuring you even more luck and prosperity to come. Plus, this hearty stew is worthy to be tried any day of the year. Bon appetit!
Black-Eyed Peas with Stewed Tomatoes – Serves 4-6 (adapted by Tyler Florence)
1/2 lb kielbasa sausage, cut into thin 1/4 inch slices
6 strips of bacon, chopped into small 1/4 inch pieces
1 lb dried black-eyed peas, rinsed, sorted, and soaked overnight in 8 cups water or quick soaked*
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 – 15oz cans whole stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, rough chopped
Leaves from 2 fresh oregano sprigs, rough chopped
Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add both meats and cook until bacon starts to become crispy and more fat is rendered out. Add in pre-soaked peas, broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook uncovered until the peas become tender, about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile in a separate medium pot, melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Add in onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Then, mix in tomatoes and sugar, letting the mixture reduce to a thick syrup, about 30 minutes.
3. Once tomato mixture is reduced, stir in herbs and season with salt and pepper. Then, carefully pour the entire tomato sauce into the pot of cooked peas. Stir to fully combine. Serve warm.
*You can do a quick soak to your dried beans if in a pinch. Just cover the beans in 8 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and let cook for 2 minutes. Cover and turn off heat. Let sit for one hour. Then, drain the water and give the beans another good rise. Now, you’re good to go!
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