It's a tradition in our family, and I think in a lot of families with Southern roots, to make Blackeye Peas on New Years Day - for good luck all year long. My Grandmother made this, and so do both my parents.
There are so many different ways to do this, but this year I went for a fairly straightforward preparation - much like you'd make any other kind of bean soup.
It's good old fashioned comfort food - it warms my soul on a winter day, and makes me think of all the people who have made this before me, and makes me proud to share this with my children.
Serve it with cornbread - this cornbread if you care to make your own from scratch (it's worth it).
- 2 pounds of dry blackeye peas - rinsed
- 3 quarts of liquid (12 cups) - this time I did 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken broth and 1 quart (4 cups) of water
- Pork: usually a ham hock or the bone leftover from that Christmas ham. Or even just some diced bacon will do. This time I had a smoked pork shank.
- carrots - about 4 or 5 medium ones - diced
- 2 onions - diced
- 3 stalks of celery - diced
- a couple bay leaves
I decided to try something a little different and actually brown and render the pork shanks a bit - I cut some of the meat and fat off into chunks and just let it all sweat and brown over low heat for a while.
I don't bother with soaking dry beans before cooking them, I've never found that it makes a noticeable difference. What I do try to do however when making something like this is to make it a day ahead, let it simmer most of a day, then rest overnight, and reheat the next day. The beans and veggies get soft and absorb flavor, the ham is falling apart, and all the flavors blend together.