copyright 2013 CarnalDish LLC
For the brine:
- 3 qts water
- 3 tbsp coarse grey sea salt (any salt will work)
For the peas and hamhocks:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 smoked hamhocks
- 6 oz salted pork (or bacon), chopped or sliced into chunks
- 2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- coarse grey sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 lb dried black-eyed peas, brined overnight and rinsed well
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
To brine the beans:
- Pour the dried beans onto a plate and discard any stones or discolored peas. Stir and dissolve 3 tablespoons of coarse grey sea salt in 3 quarts of water. Add the beans and cover with plastic wrap. Brine the beans overnight at room temperature (on your kitchen counter). The next day before you’re ready to cook your beans, dump them into a colander and rinse well under cool water.
To cook the beans:
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large 6-qt dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the salted pork or bacon and cook until some of the fat has rendered, about 4 minutes. Add the hamhocks and cook everything together until the pork has crisped, about another 10 minutes or so. When the pork has crisped up, remove it and the hamhocks from the pot and onto a plate, leaving the oil in the pot. Set aside to cool. Reduce the heat to medium.
- Add the diced onions to the leftover oil, and stir with a wooden spoon until the onions have picked up any flavor bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add a good pinch of the grey sea salt to the onions to help them release their liquids a bit more and soften up. Add the crushed red pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and smoked paprika to the onions, stirring until combined. Continue to cook the onions down until they’ve become translucent and have softened (be careful not to burn them, if they’re browning too quickly, lower the heat and/or add a little more oil), about 7-10 minutes. Once the onions have softened and more flavor has developed at the bottom of the pot, de-glaze with the white wine (off heat). Bring the pot back to the heat and cook until most of the wine has evaporated and you can leave trails with your wooden spoon, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Place the hamhocks back into the pot and add the chicken broth and water. Add the beans and make sure they’re covered by the liquid. It’s up to you whether or not you want to add the salt pork or bacon back to the pot now at this point. Bring everything up to a boil, cover and place the dutch-oven into your 300 degree oven on the lower middle rack to continue cooking for 1 hour.
- Remove the hamhocks from the pot and place on a small plate or cutting board. Remove as much meat from each hamhock as you can, being sure not to add any of the super fatty pieces. Once you’ve extracted the meat, chop it into small bite-sized pieces and add it back to the pot. Place the bones of the hamhocks in the pot as well, and stir to combine. Cook an additional 15 minutes. Check the doneness of the peas. Once they’re creamy, smooth, and melt-in-your-mouth, they’re ready. Remove from oven.
- Here’s where you tailor this dish to your own black-eyed pea preference. If you like your peas more on the brothy side, you can leave them alone and skip to the last 2 steps. If you like your peas on the stewy side, remove 2 cups of the broth only, into a bowl and set aside. Ladle an additional 2 cups of the bean and broth mixture into a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Add pureed beans back to the pot to give the dish a last touch of creaminess. Keep in mind this dish will thicken slightly as it cools. If you need to thin it out, use some of the reserved cooking liquid — but if they’re perfect and to your liking, discard it. Alternately, you could use the back of a spoon to mash some of the beans against the sides of the pot to give the dish more body. Give it a taste and season as necessary — although you may not have to do anything. Finish by adding a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, stirring until combined.
- Serve and enjoy.
- Prep Time: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 2 hours