Eating blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day has always been a requirement in our households. As a child, I would wrinkle up my nose and grudgingly eat one canned blackeyed pea, hoping that the one pea would, if not give me good luck, at least keep the bad luck at bay. As an adult, I have discovered fresh blackeyed peas and a way of cooking them that I relish. We end up with a base of soupy black-eyed peas that can be supplemented by an array of ingredients – in this case, poached egg and Spam.
Here’s the recipe:
Dice a couple of carrots and celery stalks, a small onion, a small poblano pepper, and 5 or so garlic cloves.
In olive oil, saute the carrots for about 5 minutes, add the celery & poblano and saute for another 5 minutes, add the onion & garlic, and saute for another few minutes, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add a cup of fresh black-eyed peas and a couple of cups of water. Bring to a simmer and add powdered chicken bouillon, sage, salt, black pepper, paprika, and Greek oregano. Simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the peas are soft but still a bit toothy. You will need to continue adding hot water as needed.
(Be aware, though, if you get old black-eyed peas, you can cook them for days and they will stay tough.)
Serve the peas in a bowl with a poached egg and slice of fried Spam, and garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.
To prepare the Spam, cut it into slices, and cook over the fire on a hot cast iron pan until crispy on both sides. This will take a while – a good 10 minutes per side. You want the Spam to sear and deeply brown and for the fat to almost caramelize. We like to call it Red-neck Foie Gras when it’s prepared this way.