Black-eyed peas have long been a tradition for New Year’s in the South. They are supposed to bring good luck for the coming year. Some say that if you eat one pea for each day of the new year, you will ensure good fortune. (To me, that’s an awful lot of black-eyed peas.) I’ve also heard that since they swell when cooked, it represents getting more, or growth. And as for the ham or pork added? Apparently, the pig is thought to represent prosperity and wealth.
Lucky for me, we have a farmer’s market somewhat close to our home, and every year they sell local fresh black-eyed peas. (We also happen to live far enough in the country where down the street from us lives an elderly man who grows wonderful squash, okra, and black-eyed peas. Lucky us indeed!) Fresh black-eyed peas, in my opinion, are much more flavorful than dried. This year, I stashed some fresh peas away in the freezer when I had the opportunity to buy them.
And as for the pork? I was wondering what to do with my leftover ham bone from Christmas dinner! Problem solved…
This recipe uses those fresh peas. If you don’t have fresh, you can always buy dried – just soak them overnight, and let them simmer longer, about 2 hours or so. The rest of the recipe can remain the same. Also, if you don’t have a ham bone and leftover ham from Christmas, you can always use smoked ham hocks, pork jowl, or bacon.
Happy New Year!
1 T vegetable oil
1 c onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 c diced ham
1 lb fresh black-eyed peas
2 c chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno, sauté 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add diced ham, sauté for a minute or two more. Add black-eyed peas, chicken broth, and ham bone. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until beans are soft. Remove ham bone, taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary.