Sunday, December 19, 2010

Black-Eye Peas

Black-eyed Peas, Black eye beans or Cow Peas for you non-Texans have long been a traditional food to eat on New Years. The chuck wagon cook would set a large pot aside with water to soak over night to prepare this fortune food of luck for the round-up crew and drivers along the trail.

The traditions of eating black-eyed peas starts with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.  Recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (compiled - 500 CE), Horayot 12A: "Abaye  said, now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see qara, rubiya (black-eyed peas, Arabic lubiya, kartei (leeks) silka (means beets or spinach), and tamrei (dates) on your table on the New Year."

Although, this is a long custom of Jews, it also became popular in the United States, especially southern regions as Sephardi Jews first immigrated to Georgia in 1730. This Jewish tradition was adopted by non-Jews around the American Civil War era.

In the South, non-Jews typically cooked the peas with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.


4 cups black-eyed peas
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger-root, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
2/3 cup water
2 green chilies diced (remove seeds)
4 strips bacon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

6    quart Dutch Oven
10" Skillet with Lid or larger
1    large bowl
Photo by Linda Dave Walker


  1. Rinse and soak the black-eye beans in a large bowl of water overnight.
  2. Place the beans in a 6 quart Dutch Oven. Add water to just cover beans and bring to a boil over a low heat for about 30 minutes. Drain the beans thoroughly and set aside in Dutch Oven.
  3. Dice Chili Pepper and discard seeds. Slice Bacon strips into quarter cuts.
  4. Heat the oil in a 10 inch or larger Skillet. Add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the ginger, garlic, chili powder, salt, ground coriander and ground cumin and stir-fry the mixture for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the water to the skillet, add bacon along with green chili pepper to content and cover skillet with lid. Cook the mixture until all nearly all of the water has  evaporated. Because cautious to avoid burning.
  6. Remove content of skillet and add to the boiled black-eye beans in dutch oven stirring green chillies and onions into beans together.  Stir the bean mixture for about 5-10 minutes on very low heat.
  7. Transfer the black-eye beans to a serving dish and sprinkle over the lemon juice. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold.

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  1. Sounds good. I have a black eye pea soup that I serve at work that I call Texas caviar soup. It's a pureed soup with chipotles, cumin and corriander. I service it with a spicy salsa.

  2. This is good--nice staple to have cooked and in the fridge. Thanks for the history tidbits too, interesting!