Serves: 2 entrees or 4 side dishes
4 – 5 slices bacon, cut in ¼ inch pieces
1 tablespoon bacon drippings or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped (approximately 3 cups)
1 stalk celery, diced (approximately ¾ cup)
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch – ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (personal preference)
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, ground in a mortar with a pestle
2 bay leaves
1 – 2 cups defatted chicken stock
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 meaty ham hocks
4 cups fresh or tinned black-eyed peas (or 1 1/3 cups dried black-eyed peas that have been simmered for 60 minutes (or until tender) in 5 cups defatted chicken stock)
Slice bacon into ¼ inch wide pieces.
Heat skillet over medium heat. When hot, add bacon pieces and fry until crisp. Remove from skillet and reserve. Drain bacon drippings into bowl and reserve.
Saute onion in 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or vegetable oil until translucent.
Add celery and red bell pepper to onions and saute until tender.
Add salt, pepper, ground rosemary leaves, and red pepper flakes to vegetables. Saute for 3 minutes or until aromatic.
Add chicken stock and ham hocks. Bring to a boil and skim top (remove any foam).
Cover with lid and lower heat to simmer for an hour. Check frequently and stir to prevent mixture from sticking to the pan. The mixture should not go dry. If it begins to appear dry, add more chicken stock.
Chef’s Note: The cooking time for the black-eyed peas will depend on the degree of tenderness that is desired and the prior preparation of the black-eyed peas. For example: Fresh black-eyed peas will need to cook for about half an hour. Tinned black-eyed peas, about 15 minutes. Dried black-eyed peas should be cooked in advance as the age and degree of dehydration will affect the cooking time of approximately 1 hour.
At the appropriate time for the type of black-eyed peas used, add black-eyed peas. Continue to simmer to complete the hour.
Remove ham hocks. When they are cool enough to handle, remove skin, fat and bones and discard, reserving meat.
Cut meat into bite-sized pieces and stir into black-eyed peas.
If necessary, reduce liquid by simmering with lid off until sauce is thick and coats black-eyed peas.
Remove bay leaves.
Serve in individual bowls garnished with bacon.