If you’re looking for a bit of luck in the new year while enjoying a delightful dish, I got you. It’s said that by cooking/enjoying black eye peas on the first day of the new year, brings a wealth of good luck the entire year. So I thought I’d put my leftover ham bone to use and share the recipe with you. Typically I’d do a traditional Caribbean soup with my ham bone, but I thought it would be an excellent way to add additional flavor to the somewhat bland black eye peas. Did you know that black eye peas is really a bean?
2 cups black eye peas (dry)
6 cups water (for soaking the peas)
6 cups water (cooking the peas)
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 ham bone
1-2 cups diced ham
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
4-6 allspice berries
4-6 sprigs thyme
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaf
2 large carrots
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon parsley (topping for the end)
IMPORTANT! If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs.
Pick though the black eye peas to make sure there’s no debris and give it a wash. Then place then in a deep bowl with 6 cups of water to soak overnight or for at least 4 hours. This will allow the peas to cook faster and to help with digestion when it’s cooked.
Heat the oil in a deep pot on medium heat, then add the onion and garlic – turn the heat down to low and allow it to cook gently for 3-5 minutes. After which you can go in with the thyme, black pepper, allspice and diced pieces of ham. Continue cooking on low for another 3-4 minutes. The goal is to render out any fat in the ham pieces to give the dish a ton of flavor. You can now go in with the ham bone and stir well.
Add the diced carrots and stir well. Turn you heat up to high and go in with all the other ingredients (except the scotch bonnet pepper and parsley) and bring to a boil.
As it comes to a boil skim off any froth at the top and discard. Reduce to a gentle simmer and add the whole scotch bonnet pepper. Do NOT break the pepper or you will release the beast (heat). Place the lid slightly ajar on the pot and allow it to cook for about 1 hour and 40 minutes or so.
If you don’t have a ham bone, you can always use smoked turkey, bacon, pancetta, ham hocks, salted pig tails / salted beef.. or you can do this fully vegetarian by leaving out the meat element and doing a half and half split with the water and more coconut milk. Remember if you’re using salted pigtails or beef you’ll need to boilit bit first to help tenderize and remove most of the salt it was cured in.
By now the peas should be tender. If not, cook for a big longer (add more liquid if needed). Taste for salt and adjust accordingly – I didn’t go heavy on salt as I knew the ham I used was a bit salty already. So if using a ham bone or any salty meat, don’t adjust until near the end.
Remember to fish out the whole allspice berries, bay leaf and sprigs from the thyme before serving and after 45 minutes you can remove the scotch bonnet pepper so you don’t risk breaking it.
If you find it’s a bit too runny you can always use the back of your spoon to crush some of the black eye peas, but do keep in mind that this will thicken considerably as it cools. Top with the chopped parsley for a bit of color and added freshness as you turn off the stove.
Will this black eye peas dish bring you luck? That I can’t confirm, but I do know it’s a lovely dish to serve and enjoy with your family and friends as we start 2017. If you want you can also add some flour dumplings the last 10 minutes (spinners) and make this a more ‘complete’ meal.