The way I make my black eyed peas, it's got the consistency of soup. And that fragrant, flavorful liquid (pot liquor, it's called) is absolutely one of the best things about it. That and the fact that it's made with a smoked ham hock, which adds flavor and body to the pot liquor as well as you get to pull off all the cooked meat and add it to the soup. I mean black eyed peas.
My favorite way to serve it is over a dish of soft, buttery polenta, so that it all gets mixed together as you eat it. But you could also serve it over rice or noodles. Or, as I say, it really could pass as a soup.
A note about the ham hock. The smoked ham hocks you get at the supermarket are not just smoked, they've also been cured, which means they're salty, and as you simmer the ham hock with the black eyed peas, that's all the salt you're going to need.
And now the black-eyed peas. You can soak them overnight. But if you're like most people, you barely know what you're making tonight, let alone tomorrow. Fortunately, the quick-soak method described in the recipe is all you need to do, and it only takes an hour.
(If you do soak them overnight, though, make sure to do it in the fridge, and drain and rinse them before cooking.)
- 1 lb dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and sorted
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 - 2 tsp dried chile flakes
- 1 smoked ham hock (the meatier, the better)
- 2 -3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp chopped scallions
- In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, combine the black-eyed peas and six cups of water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover and let sit for 60 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse them, and hold them in a colander.
- Preheat your oven to 275°F.
- Rinse out the pot and then add the olive oil return it to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and pepper flakes and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften.
- Add the ham hock, garlic, and bay leaf, along with 5 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, stir in the beans, then cover and transfer the pot to the oven. After an hour, lower the heat to 225°F.
- In another hour, remove the pot from the oven. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Retrieve the ham hock and transfer it to a cutting board. It'll be hot, but pull all the meat off, making sure to separate it from the skin. The meat will be so tender you won't even have to chop it up. Just pull it apart and add it back into the soup.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper, and Kosher salt only if absolutely necessary. Ladle into bowls over cooked polenta, rice or noodles, and garnish with the chopped scallions.