Blogs, Recipes

Black Eyed Peas

Who knew there was so much history surrounding food!

I definitely believe in superstitions so every New Years Day, I make black eyed peas and collard greens with a side of cornbread! As I started digging into why this is believed, I was amazed by the history behind this tradition. 

For over 1,000 years, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day has been considered good luck. In the Talmud written around 500 A.D., it was a Jewish custom at the time to eat black-eyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

According to common folklore, the tradition spread after the Civil War. Under General Sherman’s march, the Union Army stole the Confederates’ food supplies but left the peas and pork, believing they were food for the animals. However the Southern soldiers felt lucky to have these supplies to get them through the cold winter. Another Southern tradition states that black-eyed peas are a symbol of emancipation for previously enslaved African-Americans, who were officially freed on New Year’s Day after the Civil War

If you serve black eyed peas with cornbread, it represents gold, and if they are stewed with tomatoes, it symbolizes wealth and health. As for collard greens, they’re green like money and will ensure you a financially prosperous new year.

Some people will even put a penny or a dime inside the pot of peas. Whoever is “lucky” enough to receive the coin will have the most luck for the rest of the year. In my family, my grandmother used to say whoever finds the bay leaf in their dish, has luck all year. A bay leaf is much safer than swallowing a coin! 

Seriously, I could go on and on about the theories and beliefs of this tradition. I encourage you to do some research yourself. For now, let’s get to cooking!

BLACK EYED PEAS INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 lb. Black Eyed Peas, dried, uncooked and not soaked
  • 1 lb. Ham Hock, or Ham bone (if you don’t have either you can use ½ cup real bacon bites)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Water
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

BLACK EYED PEAS INSTRUCTIONS

Turn on Instant Pot using the saute function, and allow the pot to get hot. 

Once hot, add the oil and onions. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent (about 5 minutes)

Add the garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds. 

Press CANCEL on the Instant Pot. 

Add the dried, uncooked, not soaked Black Eyed Peas, bay leaves, thyme, red pepper flakes and stir to combine the peas and seasonings. 

Make a well in the middle of the peas and add the Ham hock. 

Slowly pour in the broth and water. 

Close the lid, and set the valve to sealing. Press the manual (pressure cook) button, and adjust the time to 20 minutes. 

After the time is up, allow 15 minutes natural release before opening the valve to release any remaining pressure. 

Carefully, open the lid, and remove the bay leaves and ham hock, try to remove any meat from the bone and add it to the peas. If you are using bacon bites, leave them in the pot. 

Stir in the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Serve.

Check out my Collard Green recipe next!

Blogs, Recipes

Ropa Vieja

One of the things I love about cooking is how the flavors can take you back to a specific time or memory. This recipe reminds me of my family whether it was dinner at La Teresita or the smells of my grandmother’s house. La Teresita is a Spanish restaurant in Tampa. My family have shared many meals together here. Every time we would go to dinner at Le Teresita, my dad would order Ropa Vieja, which means “old clothes” in Spanish. We would laugh as he made a joke that he liked the taste of old clothes then he would shake the bread basket, and ask “Más pan!” It became a family joke!

You’ll love this dish if you’re into big, bold flavors! It is delicious served with black beans, white rice, and sweet plantains. Typically this dish is made with flank steak, which is lean and has long, shreddy fibers, and is how the dish earned the name “old clothes.” It’s the traditional choice, but you can also use chuck roast. 

Brian and I love to use our Le Creuset braiser. So naturally, I used the braiser for this recipe. However you can also make this in a slow cooker. I included instructions for both below. 

I can not think of a better wine to pair with this dish other than Scout and Cellar’s 2018 OSO PARDO TEMPRANILLO. This wine is deep purple-red in color with notes of cherry, blood orange and leather lifted by a hint of violets on a textured frame with a bright finish. I love the story of where this wine comes from, La Mancha, Spain. The winery was founded over 30 years ago, when 28 wine growing families decided to join and work together, creating something larger than any of them could have done on their own. To this day, the estate operates as a cooperative, with over 6,000 acres of vineyard with about 60 viticulturists and vintners. Click the link to learn more and order a bottle.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds flank steak
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt or more to taste
  • 15 ounces can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup Spanish green olives, pitted (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • white rice steamed
  • 1 lime quartered
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Pat roast dry with paper towels. Heat oil in a large heatproof pot over high. Cook chuck roast, turning occasionally, until browned on both sides, 5–7 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 250°. Cook onion, bell peppers, and salt (plus 2 Tbsp. oil if using flank steak), stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12–14 minutes. 

Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pan, until vegetables are golden brown, 3–5 minutes. 

Stir in wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Stir in paprika, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne until vegetables are coated; continue to cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. 

Add tomatoes and stir. 

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Nestle the meat into the tomato mixture and tuck in bay leaves on either side. Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise until meat is very tender and shreds easily, 2½–3 hours. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Skim excess fat from sauce; discard bay leaves. Using 2 forks, tear and smash beef into sauce until it’s shredded and covered with sauce. 

Stir in olives and vinegar.

Top with cilantro. Serve with white rice, black beans and sweet plantains.

SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

Add the wine, vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spices to the slow cooker and stir. Add the flank steak and flip it around in the sauce.

Add on top of the meat the onion, bell peppers, olives, and garlic cloves.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 9 hours or high for 5 hours.