It's almost the New Year and one of the most deeply ingrained New Year traditions in the southern food culture is having at least a bite of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to ensure financial luck and prosperity in the new year.
When you initially rinse and prep the black-eyed peas they're small, dried peas. After they've had an overnight soak they swell and are ready to prep. This represents your finances swelling in the new year.
It's also believed that during the civil war the dried black-eyed peas and ham hock/salted pork wasn't "fit for human consumption" so they were left behind after the raids, which make them a lucky food.
We have always had black-eyed peas for New Year's and that tradition continues no matter who we are with or where we are – whether it's traditional black-eyed peas as a side dish, Texas caviar dip, or black-eyed peas in a 7 layer dip... traditions are traditions.
For traditional Southern Black Eyed Peas
(see below for variations)
- 1 lb dried black-eyed peas*
- 10 slices bacon, diced, or 6-8 oz ham hock or salted pork (ham hocks and salted pork can be a little harder to locate so bacon is an easy and great substitute)
- 1/2 medium white onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium jalapeno, chopped
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
- (optional) 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
* You can use 1 lb of frozen black-eyed peas or equivalent canned black-eyed peas if you don't have the time to soak overnight... make sure to rinse them thoroughly before using.
- Place the dried black-eyed peas in a large bowl or pan and cover with 8 Cups water and soak overnight. (See previous notes about frozen or canned if you're unable to soak overnight or need these quickly.)
- Place the diced bacon in your pan over medium heat and cook stirring occasionally until the fat has rendered down and the bits of bacon are crispy. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent - about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and jalapeno and cook while stirring frequently, until the onions and jalapenos are soft.
- Rinse the black-eyed peas and add them to the pan; stir and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add in the chicken broth; bring to a boil and allow to boil for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours... depending how much time you have.
Serve hot and delicious and bring on the luck!