Good Luck Black Eyed Peas

I grew up with Hoppin’ John as a New Years food: black eyed peas, ham hock, onion, celery, a few spices. Eating black eyed peas on New Years to bring good luck is a Southern tradition that my supremely superstitious Yankee mother felt strongly about, and so we ate it every year. Unfortunately, I HATED the taste of black eyed peas…I like beans in general, but black eyed peas always have had a bit of a metallic and, well, bean-y, taste to me.

I’ve inherited my mother’s endless superstitions in my adulthood, and so every New Years I feel compelled to eat black eyed peas and hang a card with a picture of the 3 wise men over my front door for good luck in the year to come (don’t ask….unless you want me to mail you a wise men card). But the problem is I still kind of hate the peas.

Last night I made a new dish inspired by a world in which Hoppin’ John meets Jambalaya, replacing and adding ingredients based on what sounded good to me (and that might add enough flavor to kind of mask their very specific pea taste).  The end result was ugly as hell but super easy, super delicious, and now our new New Years tradition for years to come (when my future children will dread New Years because they have to eat black eyed peas because their supremely superstitious Yankee mother demands it).

One note: I wasn’t planning to blog about this dish before I made it, so the spice amounts and stock amount in the ingredients list may be a bit off. I recommend you start with what I have listed below or go a little more conservative…and then taste and add as you go. I kept adding spices throughout the cooking process, and as long as you let it simmer long enough toward the end, you will be able to cook all your spices enough and it’ll turn out great. 

Ingredients: (serves a crowd)

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 30 oz black eyed peas*, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium size chicken breasts (raw)
  • 12oz andouille sausage (cooked), or roughly 4 sausages
  • 1 15oz can rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles) or just 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 (ish) cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock (more if using dry beans)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon tabasco or Franks Red Hot
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, or smoked salt, or liquid smoke (I used smoked paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup white rice

*I used canned beans because I was short on time and unsure how this dish would turn out. If you can use dry beans, DO! The result will be way better, both in texture and flavor. If you use dry beans, soak them overnight and then ideally cook them with some water and stock with some salt and any other seasonings you want. Get them fully cooked, and then follow the recipe below. If I make this again, I’ll do it with dry beans and figure out an alternative recipe and update the post.

Preparation:

Dice up your mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) and add to a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee until the onion begins to turn translucent and then add the diced garlic. Add 1/2 cup of stock to start. You will be adding stock 1/2 cup at a time throughout the recipe, allowing the dish to maintain a solid stew-like consistency (with a nice little burble going the whole time).

Slice or dice the andouille sausage into coins or half-coins (whatever you prefer) and add to the mirepoix in the pan. Now add your oregano, paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, and hot sauce. Add another 1/2 cup of stock and let the whole thing start to smell stupid good.

Add the drained can of rotel (or diced tomatoes), and cut your raw chicken into bite size pieces, and add to the mixture as well. Add the drained and rinsed beans at this point, and let the whole thing come to a nice simmer, adding enough stock to maintain your stew-like consistency with just enough liquid but not so much you’ve made a real soup.

Once the chicken is cooked through, begin to taste the dish and decide if you want to add more spices. Hot sauce will add some nice acid and brightness, smoked paprika will bring the smokiness, oregano and cumin bring the richness, regular paprika brings mostly color, etc. Add the fresh or dry parsley at this point, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Adjust as you please, and let the dish cook for another 10-20 minutes on a low-medium heat. Cook some white rice while you wait.

For some reason, dishes like this taste better if you turn off the heat and let them sit on the stove for 10 minutes or so. It’s like the soup/stew-rest equivalent of resting meat. It’s also better the next day, which means it’s perfect to make on New Years Eve (or even the day before) for eating on New Years Day.

Spoon directly on top of some white rice, and if you were smarter than me, garnish with some pretty parsley to make it prettier and more appetizing for your blog picture.

Wishing you all only the best of luck in 2019!

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