I love Southern field peas or of all kinds. Crowders, lady, purple hulls, cream peas, black-eyed, pink-eyed, you name it. And at the beginning of summer, when they show up at the farmer’s market in abundance, I grab them up. I stand around with all the kids, watching them shoot out of the big shelling machine, ready to scoop into paper bags to carry home.
This recipe, in some ways, goes against everything I believe in. Peas in a pot with pork. But I figured I should try something different – even vegetarian. Peppers and field peas go well together – I frequently throw one in the pot with the pork. But simmering the fresh peas in a flavorful, peppery broth and stirring through the piquant puree creates a complex dish with enough flavor that you won’t even miss the pork. I’m a little silly with the alliteration, but you can use any field pea here.
Pink-Eyed Pea Pepper Pot
If you are the spicy type, feel free to add more chile peppers to the broth, though you may want to remove the extras before pureeing.
1 red chile pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 medium sweet yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 pounds fresh pink-eyed peas
Red pepper hot sauce (I like Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce)
Place 6 cups of water in a heavy pot. Remove the stem and seeds from both peppers, cut into chunks and drop into the water. Add the quartered onion, garlic cloves and peppercorns. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour.
Strain the broth, reserving the solids, and return the liquid to the pan. Add the peas, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the peas are tender, about 30 – 45 minutes. While the peas are simmering, place the reserved solids from the broth in a blender. Add about ½ cup of the liquid with the peas and puree until smooth. Push the puree through the strainer to remove any whole peppercorns and tough pepper skin.
When the peas are tender, drain off the cooking liquid. Return the peas to the pot and stir in the pepper puree. Liberally salt the peas to taste, and add a dash or two of hot sauce. Heat to warm through. Serve hot.
Serves 4- 6