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In Our Kitchen: Recipe for Black-Eyed Peas With Ham Hock and Collard Greens

Black-Eyed Peas With Ham Hock and Collard Greens pairs nicely with biscuits or cornbread for dipping into the broth.

ILEANA MORALES VALENTINE | Special to the Times

Black-Eyed Peas With Ham Hock and Collard Greens pairs nicely with biscuits or cornbread for dipping into the broth.

Ideally, I have a pot of beans going every Sunday, bubbling gently for a couple hours and filling the house with a savory fragrance hinting at the meals to come all week.

My go-to beans these days come from Rancho Gordo, an heirloom bean company based out of Napa, Calif. You can order the beans online or buy them at Red Mesa Mercado's market in St. Petersburg, which also sells some of their spices and hot sauces. I was raised on rice and beans and these heirloom varieties are really beautiful and tasty.

One bag lingering in my bean collection was familiar and yet foreign at the same time: black-eyed peas. I know they're prevalent in Southern cooking, and I ate them a couple of times growing up but was never really a fan.

Recently, I flipped through a cookbook on vegetables from a chef in Georgia and found an enticing recipe for fried black-eyed peas. I imagined it'd be an irresistible snack somewhere between salty, crunchy popcorn and dry roasted edamame. But was that how I wanted to revisit this ingredient? I kept looking instead for something that would make a meal out of these beans and bookmarked the fried recipe for another time.

I landed on a recipe from David Tanis, whose cookbook Heart of the Artichoke was one of the first I bought in my now ballooning cookbook collection. He had a simple, brothy setup for the peas, simmering them with ham or bacon and infusing the broth with clove and allspice. Ribbons of collard greens cooked down in garlic and crushed red pepper eventually join the party.

For as much as I spurned black-eyed peas as a teenager, I loved this dish. The beans were incredibly tender and tasted nothing like I'd remembered. Friends and I went back for seconds, dipping biscuits into a broth that made me want to lick my lips after every bite.

Though black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten in January to usher in good luck for the new year, I felt good about serving this to my husband and friends midway through the year. It seems to be one wave of bad news after another this year, and I think we could all use a little luck right now — and a good, nourishing meal.

Ileana Morales Valentine lives in St. Petersburg with her husband. For more of their kitchen stories, visit her blog, ALittleSaffron.com. Say hello at alittlesaffron@gmail.com.

>>MODERATE

Black-Eyed Peas With Ham Hock and Collard Greens

Cornbread seems the obvious side to serve with this dish, but I was short on time so I went with a batch of drop biscuits. The biscuits didn't taste like a shortcut when dipped into that black eyed pea broth. I think David Tanis would approve.

2 pounds black-eyed peas, soaked overnight if possible

2 pounds smoked ham hock, meaty ham bone or slab bacon

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 large onion, peeled and studded with 2 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon allspice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 pounds collard greens, sliced in 1-inch-wide ribbons (about 8 cups)

1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped, for garnish

Drain peas and put them in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add ham hock or bone (if using slab bacon, cut it into 2-inch chunks), cover with 10 cups water and turn heat to high. Add salt, onion studded with cloves, bay leaf, black pepper and allspice.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until peas are tender. Throughout cooking, add water as necessary, always keeping liquid level 1 inch above surface, stirring with wooden spoon occasionally. Turn off heat. Check broth for salt and adjust seasoning. Mixture should be fairly brothy. With a pair of tongs, remove ham hock, ham bone or bacon. Chop meat and skin in rough pieces and set aside.

Put a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and heat until wavy. Add garlic and red pepper and let sizzle without browning. Add collard greens and stir to coat. Season with salt and add 1 cup water, stirring to help wilt greens. Add chopped ham and reduce heat to medium, then cover with lid slightly ajar and cook until greens are soft, about 20 minutes. Check seasoning.

To serve, put greens and meat in wide, shallow bowls, then ladle hot black-eyed peas over top. Sprinkle with scallions.

Serves 10-12.

Source: David Tanis via the New York Times

In Our Kitchen: Recipe for Black-Eyed Peas With Ham Hock and Collard Greens 08/01/16 [Last modified: Monday, August 1, 2016 12:12pm]
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