My family always made black-eyed peas on new year’s day to start the year off with good luck. There’s a bunch of foods you’re supposed to eat for good luck on new year’s day, but we always stuck to the peas. You can check out the list here. You might have some of these foods in your fridge already.
There are so many good stories about our family making the beans. One year, just about everyone in the house added salt to the beans without anyone knowing until we sat down to eat them. That year, those beans were particularly tasty. When I moved out on my own I was determined to make my own so I could carry on with the tradition. I loved the way the house smelled as the beans cooked away on the stove top. I remember the first time I made them for my boyfriend, we were early on in our relationship. He was going up to his family’s cabin with his friends for their annual hang-out trip and I wanted to send him up there with some goodies. I packed up a big brown paper bag with all kinds of yummy snacks and my black-eyed peas. He tasted them on new year’s day and insisted that I pack some up for him. I think those beans were part of the reason why he decided to keep with me 🙂
In keeping with tradition, I made my family’s lucky black-eyed peas today and I thought I’d share our family “recipe.” It’s not so much a recipe as much as a technique for making them. The beans are kind of an all day process, but they’re easy to make and totally worth the time.
- 1 package of smoked turkey wings (the package should contain two wings)
- 2 packages of frozen black-eyed peas
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp fresh thyme (you can use dried just add a little less)
- 2-3 tsp kosher salt
- fresh ground pepper to taste
Early in the day, around 10 am or 11, put the wings in a big soup pot with enough water to cover them. Boil the wings for about 3-4 hours or until the meat starts to fall off the bones. You’ll need to add water periodically to keep the wings covered (maybe every hour). Don’t add more water during the last hour of cooking. You want a nice and rick stock to cook the beans in, so let the flavor concentrate in the last hour.
Once the wings are done, take them out of the pot (don’t discard the stock!) and place on a plate or chopping block. Using two forks, pull the meat off the bones and shred or chop into manageable pieces. It’s easy if you let the wings cool a bit. Toss the bones and skin. Reserve meat in a bowl.
When you’re ready to cook the beans, add the reserved meat, chopped onions, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to the stock and bring to a boil. Add the frozen black-eyed peas. If you need to, add a little more water so the beans are just covered. Cook with the lid on over medium heat until the beans are just tender. Stir periodically to make sure the beans don’t stick while cooking. They’ll take about 45 minutes to an hour.
I always serve mine on top of white rice, making sure to give it a good dousing of stock, with a side of corn bread and tomato cucumber salad.
Even if it’s not New Year’s Day, you can still make these when you need a little luck and comfort food.