P-P-P-P’s – Peas Please!
I’ve always loved peas (maybe not English peas when I was a kid); black eyed, purple hull, field, lady, cream, and of course snow and sugar snap. The first peas are legumes but still a pea in my book My dad use to grown black eyed, purple hull and field pieces and my mother would mix them all together when she cooked them. I don’t grow my own peas but sometimes I will buy a can of each, drain and rinse and mix them together; I love the different shapes and colors together
The red pea is a variety I’ve never tried and recently ordered a package of Sea Island Red Peas from Amazon and after looking at several recipes, I knew what I was going to serve with them. Some good barely cheesy grits, topped with the red peas/gravy and topped with some crispy pork belly chunks. I’m making Hoppin’ John this week using the remainder of my bag of peas. Hoppin’ John is a dish I’ve never made before so I’m anxious to make it and maybe have a good crusty bread instead of cornbread.
If you have a Trader Joe’s close by you should keep a few packages of their already cooked pork belly in your freezer. I use it all the top for garnishes or toppings for food where I want a little meat. A friend just brought me six packages of pork belly from a Trader Joe’s in Austin and I will be hoarding them until I break down and braise my own pork belly. I’ve done that several times so don’t know why I keep buying it from TJ other than convenience.
You should read this article how the red pea got to the Carolinas; long but interesting. The red pea comes from Sea Island off barrier coast of the Carolinas. The pea is an heirloom variety of the simple cowpea, which I have never tasted. The pea is an integral part of Gullah cuisine. The Gullah dish would be served on rice but my first time cooking these flavorful history packed peas was going to be on grits.
So, if you are a pea lover give these a try even if you may have to order from Amazon.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: This Trofie Pasta Salad with Avocado and Bacon will become a favorite if you give it a try. I can usually pick up this pasta at Kroger’s and it’s their Private Reserve brand.
These are my Sea Island Red Peas and they were delicious. I keep my uncooked peas in the freezer until the next time I want to cook up a pot.
Precooked Pork Belly from Trader Joe’s can always be found in my freezer just waiting to be a garnish or star of the meal.
Put the peas in a large bowl and cover with water and refrigerate overight.
Add the celery, carrot and bay leaf while the peas or cooking and then remove before serving.
Remove about 1/2 cup of the cooked peas and either mash with a potato masher or use blender or stick blender to make a mashed paste that you will stir back into the peas as a thickener.
Cubed pork belly being browned in skillet to go on top of the peas.
I made my favorite pot of cheesy grits and plated them and ladeled on some red peas, topped with pork belly and the only thing I had for a little green garnish was some romaine lettuce that I finely shredded. Of course we had to have a pan of cornbread to go with this meal.
Red Peas, Pork Belly and Cheesy Grits
- 1 c. dried Sea Island red peas
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1/8 c. olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 c. finely chopped celery
- 1/4 c. celery leaves
- 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/2 large jalapeno seeded and chopped fine
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- cooked cheesy grits
- pork belly fried or thick sliced bacon fried and cut in strips
- Soak the red peas in three cups water overnight.
- Tie the thyme and bayleaf with kitchen twine to form a bundle (bouquet garni).
- The next day bring water with peas and bouquet garni to a boil (do not drain) and boil for about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer adding in water by the 1/4 cup as needed to keep the peas covered with water. Cook until peas are tender but still hold their shape, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and add the salt.
- Heat 1/8 cup oil in medium pot over medium heat and add the garlic, crushed pepper, celery, onion, and jalapeno pepper; cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the peas with their liquid; bring to a simmer. Cook until flavors meld and sauce has thickened. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Set aside.
- Remove about 1/3-1/2 cup cooked peas and mash with potato masher or fork and then return to pot.