Happy New Year, dear reader! How did you bring in 2012? I spent New Year's Eve with my parents at their home in Texas eating Purple Hull peas (along with some blackened snapper and Fried Okra). Why Purple Hull peas? Well, in the South eating Black Eyed peas is a New Year's tradition that's said to bring good luck. As I didn't want dried Black Eyed peas and frozen fresh Black Eyed peas weren't available, I went for the next closest thing—another variety of cowpeas. By the time they're cooked, you can hardly tell the difference anyway.
So have a bowl of Purple Hull peas for luck, and may your 2012 be full of prosperity, happiness, and joy!
Stewed Purple Hull Peas
1 slice bacon, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds thawed frozen Purple Hull peas
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
5 cocktail tomatoes, diced
Several drops Tabasco sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large, heavy pot pan over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add the bacon and fry, tossing frequently, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until rendered. Add the onion and sauté for 8 to 9 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the peas, cayenne, bay leaf, and enough water to cover by about 1 ½ inches. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally and skimming off any scum that rises to the surface, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through. Discard the bay leaf, stir in the tomatoes and Tabasco, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.
Serves 8 as a side dish. Black Eyed peas can be substituted for the Purple Hull peas. Use fresh peas in the summer when they're in season. The peas will be tender and creamy when they are cooked through. Good served over white rice or cornbread for soaking up the pot liquor.