Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Purple Hull Peas with Creole Stewed Tomatoes

Purple Hull Peas with Creole Stewed Tomatoes - Southern peas such as purple hulls shown here, are cooked down with salt pork or bacon, onion and simple seasonings, then finished with a Creole style stewed tomato.
Purple Hull Peas with Creole Stewed Tomatoes - Southern peas such as purple hulls shown here, are cooked down with salt pork or bacon, onion and simple seasonings, then finished with a Creole style stewed tomato.

Purple Hull Peas with Creole Stewed Tomatoes

Summer is winding down and I sure hope y'all put up some purple hulls - I sure did! Simple process really - good rinse, pick through, toss in some boiling water, boil for about 2 minutes, drain, plunge in ice water till cool, drain and bag. I've tried several methods of putting up, and in my experience, blanching keeps them better and they retain a fresher taste for a longer period of time in your freezer. I use my FoodSaver so I don't freeze them in water, though some folks do. So good to pull out a bag of fresh purple hulls in the middle of the winter, I'm tellin' ya!

Purple hull peas - sometimes referred to as pink-eye purple hulls - are another variety of southern field peas. They get their name from the color of the hull, and it used to be that if you ever shelled any from the pod, your purple stained fingers would be a dead giveaway. They seem to have bred that out these days though, as I have shelled several pounds in recent years, with nary a purple finger to show for it. Or maybe it's because I shell from the comfort of my recliner, in an air-conditioned house, instead of in a rocking chair, from a tub in my lap, and on the front porch in the heat and humidity. Could be!

They are in abundance at our Biloxi farmer's market every summer, both in the pod, and already shelled, though, of course, you pay a premium when somebody else has done the work. It's the first thing I look for there when summer rolls around. Some folks will tell you that purple hulls have more flavor than black-eyed peas, and though I like them both, I would agree, although I think they are very similar in size, taste and texture.

Truth is, I love all of our southern peas, but I have to say that purple hulls are hands-down my favorite of the bunch. Don't get me wrong... all of the others certainly run a close second and third and... well, you get the picture, but purple hulls are at the top of my list. I usually just cook them down with a little salt pork or bacon, maybe a ham hock or bone if I've got one, a little onion and very simply seasoned. They are simple and delicious. Leftovers make a mighty fine salsa too.

Sometimes I finish the pot with a few pods of fresh okra, and of course, I'll take okra any way you give it to me! As I mentioned on the field pea post, you can use this method for most other southern peas besides purple hulls. It also works for fresh, frozen and dried peas, the only variant being cooking times, and if dried, whether or not you need to soak them first. Salt pork, ham hocks or good ole bacon will work as your base seasoning.

This time I wanted to make them with some fresh stewed tomatoes, which you can side serve as a condiment, spooned over the beans at the table, or just stir them into the pot when the peas are tender and ready. Fresh stewed tomatoes are just a nice addition this time of the year and they pair perfectly with southern peas.

I did a simplified version of my Creole Stewed Tomatoes, using a couple of large tomatoes, cooked down with butter sauteed onion and bell pepper, with a pinch of sugar. Delish.

Recipe: Purple Hull Peas with Creole Stewed Tomatoes

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 45 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings


For the Peas:
  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) of fresh shelled or frozen purple hull peas
  • 4 ounces of salt pork or bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of smashed garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Creole or Cajun seasoning, or to taste, optional
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 4 cups of water
For the Tomatoes:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, juices retained
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Rinse and sort through fresh peas running through fresh water several times. Saute salt pork or bacon until fat is rendered, add onion cook until softened, then add garlic, cook and stir a minute. Add seasonings, sugar, peas and water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that forms, and simmer on low for about 45 minutes to an hour, or longer as needed, until peas are tender. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

Meanwhile, for the tomatoes, melt butter in a skillet and saute the onion and bell pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomato, with its juices and sugar; cook until tender. Serve on the side with the peas, or may stir them into the pea pot when tender. Offer with pickled onion and cornbread on the side.

Cook's Notes: You may also use a meaty ham hock or ham bone, but simmer those first with the water and vegetables for at least 30 minutes to bring out the flavor, before adding the peas. May also add in 8 small okra pods during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Use this recipe with other southern peas, such as black-eyed peas, crowder peas, field peas, zipper, butter peas and lady cream peas. Jalapeno or other hot peppers are a nice seasoning addition for many southern peas.

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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on August 25, 2015

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