Southern black-eyed peas are a staple side dish especially around the New Year. Packed with smokey bacon, sausage, blackening seasoning, and kale these beans are sure to bring you all the luck for the new year.
Black-eye peas have been part of my New Years traditions every since I was a child. It is something that is so integral to my holiday traditions as baking cookies for Christmas. This has been one of my favorite recipes since the bacon and pork add a nice smokey flavor. While I do make these for New Year’s Day I love eating these all year round as they are incredibly flavorful and make a wonderful side for so many dishes.
In this recipe
In tradition with the genesis of this recipe there isn’t much in the way of ingredients. Celery, onions, a pepper, garlic and herbs make up the basis of this recipe. Bacon and smoked sausage replace the ham bones but they can be used in this recipe as well.
Bacon: when choosing bacon you will want to make sure that it is thick cut. This will help keep its shape once it is added back to the beans.
Smoked sausage: this can be substituted for any kind of sausage you prefer such as andouille, chorizo, or kielbasa.
Why do I soak the beans?
The reason that you want to soak the beans first is to let them absorb water before they cook. This will help them cook faster as well as maintain their shape. You can do this by covering them in water that sits 2-3 inches above the top of the beans and letting them sit for 2-3 hours or even overnight. If you are making these in a pinch then add them to a pot and bring to a boil covered for an hour, drain, and then cook as normal. You do not have to soak the beans but if you don’t you will need to increase your cooking time by about 3 hours.
Developing a rich flavor
The first part in really bringing forth a flavorful dish is to cook the sausage and the bacon together. Since the sausage is already cooked it seems to make sense to wait until the bacon is done cooking before adding the sausage. By cooking them together you will get a nice richly flavored dripping that will be used for the veggies. Make sure that the bacon is crispy but not burned. If the bacon isn’t crispy once it is added back to the beans it will become soft.
Caramelize the vegetables
Once you have your reserved drippings you will want to add the vegetables to the drippings. It is important to make sure that you don’t clean out the pan after you remove the bacon fat. You will add a few tablespoons back to cook the vegetables but all of the browned bits on the bottom are perfect for building flavors. You want to let the onions start caramelizing before you add the additional ingredients. The sweetness that comes with the onions will make this dish taste even better.
Making black-eyed peas
Once you have all of the vegetables cooked then you can add the broth or water and the remaining seasonings. You will want to leave these beans uncovered when they cook. However if you didn’t soak the beans then cook them with the lid on so that they will absorb more of the broth. Only add the kale and bacon mixture at the very of the cooking process. It is important to make sure you add the salt at the very end of the cooking. Once the liquid has started cooking out then you can add any additional salt.
Looking for other southern recipes?
Southern Black Eyed Peas
- Dutch oven or soup pot
- Spider skimmer or slotted spoon
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups kale roughly chopped
- 1 pound black-eyed peas
- ¾ pound thick-cut bacon chopped
- 6 ounces smoked sausage diced
- 1½ cup onion chopped
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1 jalapeno chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon thyme fresh
- 1 tablespoon blackening seasoning
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt optional
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper optional
- Rinse black-eyed peas and place in a bowl for covered in warm water about 2-3 inches above the peas. Cover and let soak for 2 hours or overnight.
- In a Dutch oven or soup pot, over medium-high heat cook the bacon and sausage until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes depending on the doneness of the bacon you prefer. Remove bacon and sausage mixture using a spider skimmer or slotted spoon, place into the bowl, and set aside.
- Reserve 3 tablespoons of the drippings and discard the rest. Add the drippings back to the Dutch oven and cook on medium-high heat, the celery, jalapeno, and onion until the onion have started to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the chicken broth.
- Drain the soaked beans, rinse, add them to the pot and add the blackening seasoning, thyme and bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil and the reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 25 minutes. If you did not soak the beans cook for 3 hours.
- Remove the bay leaves and add the kale, bacon a sausage back to the pot and cook for another 15 minutes, until the beans are tender.
If the beans start to dry out add more water.