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Black-eyed pea and cornbread skillet

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The Runaway Spoon

(Read caption) Simmer black-eyed peas with country ham, onions, tomatoes, chilis, and seasoning before baking beneath a crusty cornbread topping.

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No self-respecting Southerner, I boldly say, would let New Year’s Day pass without at least one bite of black-eyed peas. They are supposed to bring good fortune for the New Year, and everyone can use a little bit of that. Hoppin’ John is traditional in many quarters, but peas slowly cooked with a piece of pork are the norm for many. I like to vary my black-eyed pea intake, from my classic recipe to a big bowl of Good Luck Gumbo. But no matter how you eat them, cornbread is the traditional accompaniment to black-eyes. So here’s a recipe that kills two birds with one stone, and is tasty to boot.

This recipe is very simple, though it has a couple of steps. It’s easily done while watching the football game, which I understand is a popular New Year’s Day activity, or while resting on the sofa after some late-night revelry. Season this to your own tastes, lots of spicy Creole seasoning or just a touch, tomatoes with green chile or without. I find country ham “biscuit slices” readily at most markets in vacuum packages, but whole slices are just fine. Chopped “seasoning pieces” are great for seasoning, but don’t make great eating, so avoid them. For some prosperity to go with your New Year optimism, serve these with greens, like Foldin’ Money Cabbage.

Black-eyed Pea and Cornbread Skillet

Serves 4

For the Black-eyed Peas

4 ounces center cut country ham biscuit slices

4 cups of water

Half of a small yellow onion

2 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s)

12 ounces frozen black-eyed peas

3 green onions, white and light green part only, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 (14.5-ounce can) diced tomatoes with green chile (or plain diced tomatoes), drained

Salt to taste

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