I think most Black folks are aware of the New Year’s Tradition of eating black-eyed peas (and cornbread, and collards, and pork or sometimes fish). I figured I’d drop this Southern Black Eyed Peas recipe in time for yours this year, just in case you’re interested. Now I don’t know how your gramma made them of course, but if she was from my neck of the woods odds are she made them similarly.
I make a flavorful stock with smoked turkey parts, and simmer those, collards, peas, and the holy trinity low and slow, making these Southern Black Eyed Peas tender, flavorful, and perfect for any Soul Food Dinner or New Year’s Day (New Year’s Eve is cool too, I’m sure). If you like black-eyed peas, I think you’ll really enjoy this recipe.
Southern Black Eyed Peas Ingredients
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Southern Black Eyed Peas recipe:
- Smoked turkey, thick-cut bacon: My recipe calls for a hefty amount of smoked turkey in case you’re making it for the main course, but you can cut it in half if you’re making these Southern Black Eyed Peas as a side dish. If there’s no pork on your fork you can omit the bacon (or use another kind) and fry the holy trinity in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Black-eyed peas: Dry, fresh, or frozen (raw) — any of these will work. If you’re an experienced cook you can go with canned beans. You will need to adjust the recipe – especially the cooking time – to avoid mushy peas.
- Collard greens: An optional addition, but one that’s always a hit with folks I serve this to. You can add more or less, based on your preference.
- Garlic, green onions, thyme, peppercorns: Our special flavorings. The peppercorns and green onions (scallions) are for the smoked turkey stock. The garlic and thyme get sauteed right along with the holy trinity.
- Celery, onion, green bell pepper: I’m not sure how traditional adding the holy trinity to black-eyed peas is, but I am sure it’s good!
- Chicken broth, water: Our liquids. Water is mostly there to extend things when we need it. You can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth if you like.
- Apple cider vinegar, hot sauce: The vinegar tenderizes and neutralizes some of the bitterness.
- Kosher salt: I don’t add any additional salt to my Southern Black Eyed Peas because I feel the bacon and smoked turkey add enough on their own. Use it if your tastebuds tell you that you need it.
How to Make Southern Black Eyed Peas
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this Southern Black Eyed Peas recipe:
- Make the Smoked Turkey broth. Place a large dutch oven – or giant braiser – over high heat and add the smoked turkey, whole peppercorns, green onions, and chicken broth. If there’s not enough liquid to submerge the turkey, add enough water to make it so. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let simmer uncovered for one hour. Remove the turkey parts, then strain the broth’s solids by pouring it through a sieve into a large measuring cup. It will have reduced in volume quite a bit; you should have around 4 C remaining. Set it aside.
- Prepare for Southern Black Eyed Peas. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the bacon to the pan. Cook, stirring and tossing as needed until the bacon is browned and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon bits to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and fresh thyme. Stir to coat in the bacon grease, and let cook until softened, stirring occasionally, and the onion is translucent – about 7 minutes.
- Simmer the Black Eyed Peas. Add the smoked turkey, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and the reserved cooking liquid from before. Stir together, then add just enough water to ensure everything is mostly submerged. If there isn’t, add more water. Stir in the hot sauce and vinegar and let everything come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for another hour.
- Shred the Smoked Turkey. After an hour, remove the lid and check on the smoked turkey. It should be ready to pull off of the bone; grab one with a pair of tongs and give it a squeeze: the meat should be much softer than it was at the start, and start to come apart with pressure. If it isn’t ready, return the lid and continue simmering for another half hour or so. When the turkey is ready, remove it from the pot and transfer it to a cutting board. Use a fork to remove all the meat from the bone and shred it (use the tongs to hold it in place if it’s too hot to handle).
- The Final Simmer. Stir the shredded turkey meat into the Southern Black Eyed Peas and return the lid. Give it a taste, and add salt if you feel it needs it. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes, or until the beans are tender to your liking. The cooking liquid should have reduced and thickened into a loose gravy. If it’s too thick add a touch of water. If you need more than half a cup of liquid use chicken broth instead so you don’t dilute the flavor too much. When you’re happy with the consistency stir in the cooked bacon and dassit!
What To Serve With Southern Black Eyed Peas
As I mentioned before, this recipe is good as a main dish, or a side. Either way, you choose just note that having cornbread on the side is not optional! Pictured is my Cornbread Cake Muffins recipe made in an 8″ cast-iron skillet.
Obligatory Pinterest Graphic –