Lucky Black-Eyed Peas with Realtree Sausage
After the last couple of years, we could all use a little bit of extra luck and prosperity in the coming year. Southern food legend has it that a meal of black-eyed peas, collards or other leafy greens, and cornbread will usher in prosperity and wealth throughout the year to come.
The tradition dates back as far as the Civil War. African Americans were eating black-eyed peas, a food generally looked down upon, as a staple. In the Carolinas, for instance, those peas were sometimes cooked with shrimp, pork scraps, or other meats, along with rice to form a stew of sorts.
After the war, those same peas were often the only food to be found for anyone, and they sometimes meant the difference between starving to death and managing to hold on for better times to come. If a family was lucky enough to have cured a ham for Christmas, it was usually fully consumed in the following days, leaving a salty bone that could be added to the pot to flavor the peas for the New Year's meal.
Over time, a meal of black-eyed peas came to symbolize good luck, the greens to symbolize money in the new year, and the cornbread to symbolize gold. Does it work? Who knows, but when cooked with onion, a smoked ham hock, and some Realtree smoked sausage from Uncle John's Pride, it's a meal everyone will love. And who knows, maybe it will bring a little good luck. It sure couldn't hurt.
16 ounces dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked in cold water overnight
1 smoked ham hock
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cups water or chicken stock, or a combination of the two
2 packs (14 ounces each) Realtree smoked sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups cooked white rice
Salt and pepper
Start by rinsing the dried peas. After rinsing and checking them for any foreign substance like other grains or small rocks, soak them in a glass or plastic bowl overnight in cold water.
Pour off the soaking water and add the peas to a large pot. Add the ham hock, diced onion, and 6 cups of cold water or stock.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour at a low simmer. Check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
Add the Realtree smoked sausage and 2 cups cooked white rice. Stir to combine. Simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes.
Serve the peas with collard, mustard, or turnip greens that have been slow simmered with a hambone or ham hock of their own until they are completely tender. Add a slice of cornbread to complete the meal. Good luck!