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"Friends" Southern Soul Food Black-eyed Peas {Recipe}

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If you're from the South, then you know that black eyed peas are a must-have on New Year's Day. Not only do they bring good luck, but they're also delicious! This year, why not try making your own Southern black eyed peas? It's easier than you think, and the results are sure to satisfy. So get cooking!

These wealth and prosperity beans aka classic Southern black-eyed peas are not only perfect for your New Year’s fix (a Southern tradition), but also great for those weekly soul food Sunday dinners.

These are made with smoked turkey instead of your normal smoked ham hocks but have that same depth of flavor.

There are few foods more emblematic of the American South than southern black-eyed peas. They are a quintessential soul food item. Also known as cowpeas, these humble beans have been a staple of Southern cuisine for centuries. While they may not be the most glamorous ingredient, black-eyed peas are incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

blackeyed peas in a pot with smoked turkey leg

MOOD MUSIC (beats to pair with Southern black eyed peas)

I grew up drinking the kool-aid as it relates to New Year’s Day tradition of eating black-eyed peas. My freshmen year in college I broke my jaw and showed my deep rooted beliefs by blending black-eyed peas into a smoothie. Yes it was as turrible as it sounds, but I kept my streak alive lol. Young, dumb, and foolish I was, but the real question is where were my friends to slap me upside my head to stop my foolishness.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR SOUTHERN BLACK-EYED PEAS

  • Dry Black-eyed peas
  • Smoked Turkey legs (2) - salt pork or ham hock are more traditionally used
  • Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Smoked Paprika - adds additional smoky flavor
  • Cayenne Pepper 
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Dried Thyme
  • Bay Leaf
  • Olive Oil
  • Green onion (optional) for garnishing

HOW TO MAKE SOUTHERN BLACK-EYED PEAS (step by step)

Soak your dried beans if using dried black-eyed peas. To quick-soak bring a pot of peas to a boil then simmer for an hour, otherwise just soak them overnight in a large bowl of water. Thaw frozen peas if using these.

Pre-mix your dry spices in a medium bowl and set arise for later.

Cut the meat away from one of the turkey legs and grind up in a food processor. Set aside.

Pre-heat a pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add ghee or canola oil then cook the whole turkey leg about a minute per side just enough to release some of the flavor and fat. Remove and set aside.

turkey leg cooking in pot

Saute your aromatics. Heat a pan on medium heat then add onions, celery, and garlic for a minute or two. Add the ground turkey meat plus a quarter of the seasoning.

vegetables sauteing
vegetables and ground turkey cooking in a pot

Add the beans and cook for a minute, then add the chicken stock, bay leaf, and half the remaining spices. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover.

stock and turkey leg in pot

After about 30 minutes of cooking add the remaining seasoning mix. Cook black eyed peas for another hour, stirring occasionally, and taste for flavor and bean consistency.

Most soul food spots and most black folk black eyed pea recipes call for a creamier texture. For this cook black eyed peas even longer and check consistency until desired texture is achieved.

Garnish the cooked peas with green onions and serve with cornbread and your favorite hot sauce.

blackeyed peas in a pot with smoked turkey leg

COOKING VARIATIONS AND TIPS

Use dry or fresh black-eyed peas. If using fresh peas, your cooking time will be shorter and no soaking is needed.

Make your own chicken broth for more flavor and control of salt content.

Pork is traditionally used in Southern cooking, especially black folks soul food style black-eyed peas so feel free to keep this classic with smoked ham hocks or bacon. There are also smoked turkey options beyond legs, including turkey tails and necks. Smoked turkey wings have become more popular

These can be made vegan with a few tweaks. You’ll have to use a really high quality paprika to replicate the smoked meat flavor. 

For more flavor reserve 1-2 cups of the soaking liquid and add back to broth when cooking.

If you prefer to make this a true one-pot dish add a bit more stock or water for the rice to cook fully

Serve these with rice, for a Hoppin John recipe

Other black-eyed pea relatives like purple hull or crowder peas can be substituted for black-eyed peas in this recipe if they are available to you.

Serve with fresh hot pan of cornbread or go really old school with hot water cornbread. For main dish pairings consider any of these popular soul food meat dishes. Wash things down with an ice cold glass of sweet tea.

In the South black-eyed peas are eating annually on New Year’s Day for good luck, wealth, and prosperity. Whether you believe in the superstition or not enjoy these on any day. 

These can definitely be made in an instant pot

If you prefer a vegan alternative, cut out the turkey leg and replace the chicken stock with this great enhanced vegetable stock or store-bought vegetable broth.

Add red pepper flakes for a bit more flavor and slight heat.

cooked blackeyed peas in a white bowl

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Making Southern-Style Black Eyed Peas

What do you serve with Southern black eyed peas?

Normally when I'm cooking black eyed peas I'm including them as part of a soul food type menu. This might include collard greens, fried okra, fried pork chops, and cabbage.

Can You Use Canned Black eyed Peas in this recipe?

You can but I don't recommend it. Slow cooking peas in a large pot is the way to achieve that depth of flavor common with Southern cooking. Frozen black eyed peas are an option. I do recommend thawing first before cooking.

What meat goes good with black eyed peas?

Black eyed peas are pretty versatile and will work as a pairing with many different meat options. I like fried catfish, blackened chicken, beef neck bones, and smoked ham hock.

Do You Have To Soak Black eyed Peas?

Yes, soaking dried beans reduces the cooking time significantly so I highly recommend it. You can soak overnight or use the quick soaking method I mentioned earlier.

Can You Cook Southern peas in a crock pot or slow cooker?

Yes you can adapt the recipe to fit a slow cooker. There isn't much to do other than to be sure to brown your smoked meat prior to cooking the peas. You might want to increase your seasoning including adding in a few more ingredients like bell peppers, bay leaves, and fresh thyme.

I also cook these in my instant pot for more of a modern soul food vibe, i.e. quick weeknight soul food side dish.

MORE BLACK-EYED PEAS RECIPES

Black-eyed Pea Soup

Pan-fried Black-eyed Peas

Black-eyed Pea Falafel

Black-eyed Pea Salad

Purple Hull Peas and Okra

Instant Pot Blackeyed Peas

Southern Field Peas and Okra

make this recipe

If you’re looking for a delicious and comforting side dish to serve up at your next get-together, look no further than Southern black eyed peas. This soul food recipe is easy to follow and calls for simple ingredients that you can find at most grocery stores. So what are you waiting for? Give this dish a try today!

If you make this Southern Black eyed Peas recipe or any other from the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

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cooked blackeyed peas in a white bow

Southern Black-eyed Peas

Classic recipe for Southern black-eyed peas made w/ smoked turkey. These are creamy, smoky, and well-seasoned like a pro & perfect for NYE or Sunday dinner.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Soul Food, southern
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 348kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas fresh can be substituted
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium smoked turkey legs
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic diced
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  • If using dried black-eyed peas, put them in a large pot and cover with about 4 inches of water. Soak the peas overnight, then drain the water (reserve 2 cups of the liquid for later) and rinse. If you’re pressed for time, boil the peas for 2-3 minutes, remove pot from heat and let soak for an hour.
  • Pre-mix the dry spices together in a medium bowl.
  • Carve one of the turkey legs, removing as much of the meat from the bone as possible. Place turkey pieces into a food processor and pulse to a grind. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the whole smoked turkey leg and saute for 1-2 minutes per side. Remove the turkey and set aside.
  • Add onion, celery and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch or two of the seasoning to the vegetables as you saute. Add in the ground turkey.
  • Add ½ the spices and cook until the entire mixture is coated with the spices, about 2 minutes. Add the peas and mix well.
  • Pour in the stock and reserved water if using, and drop in the bay leaves. Add the turkey leg back to the pot along with more seasoning and bay leaves.
  • Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the peas are very soft, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  • Taste for seasonings, and add more if desired. Discard the bay leaves, then transfer the black-eyed peas to a serving bowl.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Use dry or fresh black-eyed peas. If using fresh peas, your cooking time will be shorter and no soaking is needed.
Make your own stock for more flavor and control of salt content.
Pork is traditionally used in Southern style black-eyed peas so feel free to keep this classic with smoked ham hocks or bacon. There are also smoked turkey options beyond legs, including turkey tails and necks.
These can be made vegan with a few tweaks. You’ll have to use a really high quality paprika to replicate the smoked meat flavor. 
For more flavor reserve 1-2 cups of the soaking liquid and add back to broth when cooking.
If you prefer to make this a true one-pot dish add a bit more stock or water for the rice to cook fully
Serve these with rice, for a Hoppin John recipe
Other black-eyed pea relatives like purple hull or crowder peas can be substituted for black-eyed peas in this recipe if they are available to you.
Serve with fresh hot pan of cornbread or go really old school with hot water cornbread.
In the South black-eyed peas are eating annually on New Year’s Day for good luck, wealth, and prosperity. Whether you believe in the superstition or not enjoy these on any day. 
These can definitely be made in an instant pot

Nutrition

Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 400mg | Potassium: 845mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 6mg
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Recipe Rating




Naiby

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

Just by looking at your ingredients, I can feel the smokiness from this dish. Black-eyed peas are my forgotten beans so I'll think of them for my next recipe. Thanks!

Ramona

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

WOW, this recipe looks absolutely amazing and I am definitely planning on giving this a try for tomorrow’s dinner! I can’t wait to get started on this tomorrow night and I know my family will ask me to make it again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

Amanda

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

These are the best black eyed peas! The smoked turkey added such a wonderful complexity. It was the perfect meal to celebrate the new year, but I'll definitely make it again before next year. It's so cozy and perfect for these winter months.

Debbie

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

I usually use a ham bone to cook my black eyed peas but I didn't have one . I came across this recipe and I knew I had to try it. Our local market has smoked turkey legs so I gave your recipe a try. My whole family loved these black eyed peas , I did not have one pea left. Thanks for the recipe.

Candice

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Such a great recipe! I always make black-eyed peas for the new year, and this is one of the best recipes we've ever made. Thank you for a great recipe!