Ready to ring in the New Year with a big warm bowl of soul food? Dig into our southern black-eyed peas, inspired by Divas Can Cook, and celebrate every belly-filling bite.
We don’t know if eating black-eyed peas (also called “Hoppin’ John” in the South) on New Year’s Day will bring wealth and prosperity for the year to come, but we do know you’ll love starting the year with a bowl of this richly flavored dish. Our soul food inspired black-eyed peas recipe is scrumptiously laden with pancetta, onions, garlic, and kale. Ancho chile pepper flakes, hot sauce, and jalapeños give the peas a welcome kick of heat for delightful tongue tingles of flavor.
ALSO TRY: Southern green beans with roasted garlic
What is pancetta? Pancetta is the ingredient that gives this sumptuous dish a sophisticated depth of porky flavor. Pancetta is an unsmoked Italian bacon made of pork belly meat that is salt cured and seasoned with black pepper and sometimes other spices. You can find pancetta at your local meat deli. Regular bacon can be substituted in a pinch, but it will impart a smoky flavor that pancetta doesn’t have. Smoked or not, either pork choice is a winner in our book.
A cook’s shortcut: Fresh black-eyed peas are available in some supermarkets. If you can find these tasty gems, you can forgo the six hours of soaking dry peas and whip this dish together right away. Though black-eyed peas are also available in cans, we recommend dry black-eyed peas — or fresh, if you can find them — for the tastiest results.
Vegetarian variation: If you’re starting the New Year off on a meat-free diet, you can make a vegetarian-friendly black-eyed pea dish by omitting the pancetta and swapping in vegetable broth for chicken broth. The earthy flavors of the aromatics, peas, and kale along with the lip-smacking good heat from the peppers will make a meat-free version of black-eyed peas equally satisfying.
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Soak the black-eyed peas
Soaking the peas will shorten the cooking time. Rinse the dry black-eyed peas to remove any grit. Place the peas in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let the peas soak for 6 hours or overnight. Drain the peas and set aside.
Cook the pancetta
Pancetta gives this dish a depth of salty pork flavor. Place chopped pancetta in a large pot over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Use a spatula to transfer the pancetta to a stack of paper towels to drain excess fat.
Saute onions and garlic in the pancetta fat
Add the onions to the pot and cook them, stirring often, until they are softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes or just until the garlic is softened and fragrant.
Make a pot of black-eyed peas
Add the peas, pancetta, and chicken broth to the onion mixture. Stir well to combine. Stir in a bay leaf and ancho chili pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a low boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the peas are tender. Add the kale, smoked salt, and black pepper to the peas. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or just until the kale has wilted.
Garnish with hot sauce and serve hot
Sprinkle the peas with fresh parsley and give the dish a few dashes of hot sauce. Serve hot with a few slices of jalapeño.
Traditional and soulful
So hearty and warm!
The perfect cold weather dish
The smokey pancetta, garlic, and onions give this dish so much flavor
Give some a try
Bite after bite of pure comfort!
Southern black-eyed peas
- 2 cups dry black-eyed peas
- 8 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 1 cup diced onions
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili pepper flakes
- 1 cup fresh kale, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- Dash of hot sauce
- Jalapeño peppers, sliced for garnish
- Rinse black-eyed peas thoroughly under cool water.
- Place peas in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and soak for 6 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse peas. Set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, cook pancetta until crispy.
- Drain pancetta on paper towels, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat in bottom of the pot.
- Add onions to the pot and cook, stirring often, until translucent.
- Add garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
- In the pot with onions and garlic, combine peas, pancetta, and chicken broth. Stir well.
- Add bay leaf and ancho chili pepper flakes and stir again.
- Bring pea mixture to a low boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until peas are tender. The peas are done when they are tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.
- When the peas have reached desired tenderness, add kale, smoked salt, and black pepper to taste. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until kale has wilted.
- Garnish peas with parsley and a few dashes of hot sauce.
- Serve hot with a few sliced jalapeños.