Friday, July 11, 2014

Southern Field Peas and Snaps

Southern Field Peas and Snaps - Field peas cooked with green beans and served here with grilled smoked andouille sausage and cornbread.
Southern Field Peas and Snaps - Field peas cooked with green beans and served here with grilled smoked andouille sausage and cornbread.

Southern Field Peas and Snaps

It can be a little bit confusing when a Southerner talks about field peas, because kinda like with butter beans or what we mean when we say "Coke," they might be referring to any one of literally hundreds of Southern field peas.

Field peas, or cowpeas as we also know them, aren't really peas at all. They are beans that grow very well in the South because they are heat and drought tolerant and grow in just about any soil. They're categorized generally in four groups - crowder, cream, black-eyed and field peas, and there are many varieties to be found in each of those categories.

What I'm cooking up here is a tiny, tender brown field pea and what is often marketed in the frozen, dried and canned food sections of your grocery store simply as a generic field peas. These are somewhat similar in appearance to black-eyed peas, but more reddish in color like a crowder, and much smaller and more firm than black-eyes.

Y'all already know my favorite dried bean brand, right?
Unless you grow them yourself, fresh peas are most easily found at local farmer's markets, though expect to pay a premium price for them when they are already shelled for you.

Many of you may remember hanging on the porch with your grandmother every summer shelling peas from a big washtub on the porch, oversized bowl in your lap - and you know that it is indeed quite a bit of work. With nothing but the sounds of nature around you, those were the best times for connecting - just sitting and talking about your day and about life in general really. You can still buy peas in their pods, of course, and shell them yourself, though you'll generally have to get those at a pick your own farm.

Although most Southerners have some minor variation in the preparation and seasoning of the different types of Southern peas that we enjoy, this basic method may be used for all of them, and in fact, for a medley mix of them.

Southern Style Hissy Fit: While they're perfectly good all on their own, a favorite Southern preparation for field peas is with "snaps," and, if you've shelled your own field peas, very likely the snaps you will include in your dish, will usually be the tender pods from your hard work of shelling. Today, very few of us shell fresh field peas, buying them already shelled fresh from the farmers markets, in bags or frozen from the grocery store. In most cases today, the "snaps" we'll be using are simply snapped fresh green beans, and that is a perfectly acceptable sub for those pea shells. Fresh okra is also a typical addition and helps to thicken the pot likker up a bit. {tucks away soapbox}

These are great as a side dish to any meal, but one of my favorite ways to serve them is with a couple of links of grilled andouille smoked sausage tucked right into the bowl, some cast iron skillet cornbread with some greens, sliced, garden tomatoes and sweet or pickled onions on the side. Now that's a mighty fine meal.

Here's how to make my Southern Field Peas and Snaps.

Rinse field peas and place into a large pot or Dutch oven. If preparing from dried, presoaked peas, cover with water, add salt pork, bacon or ham hock, and chile pod, if using. If using fresh pea, you'll be putting all of this in the pot all at once.


Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, at a bare bubble for 1 hour.


Heat bacon drippings in a separate skillet and add the onion. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add garlic and seasonings; cook and stir another minute.


Transfer to pea pot. Rinse, trim and snap green beans in half or thirds, depending on their size. Add to pot, bring peas to a boil, reduce and simmer over a medium low heat, until peas are tender, another 25-30 minutes.

If preparing from fresh or frozen, place everything into the pot all at once and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until beans and peas are tender. Add butter or bacon fat and stir in; taste and adjust seasonings as needed.


I like to serve these as a side dish for many different meals, but one of my favorite ways to eat field peas is with grilled andouille sausage and cornbread on the side. It's not traditional with Southern peas, but here in the Deep South we tend to add rice when we serve any kind of a bean.


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Yum

Recipe: Southern Field Peas and Snaps

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 1 hour 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 pound shelled fresh, frozen or dried field peas
  • 10 cups water
  • 4 ounces salt pork, bacon or a small ham hock
  • 1 dried whole red chile pepper, optional
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 large toe garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (such as Herbes de Provence), optional
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or butter, optional
Instructions

Rinse field peas and place into a large pot or Dutch oven. If preparing from dried, presoaked peas, cover with water, add salt pork, bacon or ham hock, and chile pod, if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, at a bare bubble for 1 hour.

Heat bacon drippings in a separate skillet and add the onion. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add garlic and seasonings; cook and stir another minute. Transfer to pea pot. Rinse, trim and snap green beans in half or thirds, depending on their size. Add to pot, bring peas to a boil, reduce and simmer over a medium low heat, until peas are tender, another 25-30 minutes.

If preparing from fresh or frozen, place everything into the pot all at once and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until beans and peas are tender.

Add butter or bacon fat and stir in; taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve as a side dish. Also excellent with grilled andouille sausage and cornbread.

Cook's Notes: Back in the day, those shelling fresh field peas would have used the leftover pods as their "snaps." Today, few of us shell fresh field peas, buying them already shelled fresh from the farmers markets, dried in bags or frozen from the grocery store. In most cases today, the "snaps" we'll be using are simply fresh green beans snapped and added to the pot, though fresh okra is also a typical addition and helps to thicken the pot likker up a bit. Note that fresh peas will often throw off foam as they cook. Simply skim it off as you see it. For less intense heat, split the pod on the chile pepper and remove the seeds. May substitute Creole or Cajun seasoning if you prefer. Fresh peas are the most flavorful and will cook up in about half the time of dried, but depending on the type of pea, soaking dried peas overnight will help to accelerate that.

May also use this recipe for black-eyed peas, crowder peas, lady cream, purple hull, and many other Southern cowpeas. For a boost in the flavor, use chicken broth for all or part of the water. For mixed herbs, I use dried Herbes de Provence, which contains rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory. If using okra, allow for about 15 minutes of cooking time, adding the okra depending on the cooking time for the type of pea (fresh, frozen, dried) you are using.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on July 11, 2014
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