Every New Year while growing up, my mother would open a couple cans of black eyed peas, heat them in a saucepan and plop some on the plate, clearing a small space among the ham, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole to fit in the unwelcome legume. “It brings good luck for the coming year to eat black eyed peas on New Years!”, my mom would say, as my siblings and I (and probably my dad as well) were thinking “This better bring good luck if I have to suffer through this.” And it’s true, canned black eyed peas with no further treatment are indeed quite bland, and the metallic flavor from the can didn’t help. In fact, my mother was even understanding in this matter, and only insisted that we take just one bite, not wanting any of her brood to hit on hard luck during the year. And I don’t think any of us took more than the one bite necessary to stave off bad luck for another 365 days.
So unpleasant was the experience, that once on my own, it was many years before I braved a bite of black eyed peas again, and it was then that I made the discovery that “Hey, these things can be pretty darn good!”
These days, I not only make black eyed peas for New Year’s (and even other times throughout the year!), but I make them as an entree, not just something relegated to a tiny section of the plate. Served with rice and collard greens, you have yourself an entire meal. And even if the whole luck thing doesn’t pan out, at least you got the year off to a tasty start.
I’m sure that in some parts of this country, and in some other countries as well, some mothers make entirely awesome black eyed peas, but in the northern midwest, they were hard to come by.
So, just in time for the New Year, I bring you Not My Mother’s Black Eyed Peas, a zesty treat, and using the pressure cooker, pretty quick too. Traditionally, these would be made with some type of pork such as bacon, salt pork or ham hocks (which I have absolutely nothing against), but I have really been liking smoked turkey drumsticks lately, so I have used them in this recipe.
I soaked the peas for just a few hours since I just bought them earlier in the day, so cooked them a little longer than if they had been soaked overnight.