I had some leftover roast pork and summer vegetables (courgettes and peppers) in the fridge and thought the pork would go well with black-eyed peas. In America smoked ham hock and black-eyed peas are often cooked together – they are served as a popular dish on New Year’s Day called Hoppin’ John, which is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
Black-eyed peas are actually beans, originally coming from West Africa, unlike most other dried beans we eat, which come from the New World. They are low in fat, high in fiber, rich in minerals and contain no cholesterol.
It is thought that black-eyed peas were first taken to Virginia in the 17th Century, where they were cultivated. As a crop, the beans like heat and are drought resistant, which has made them popular in the Southern States.
Pork with Black-Eyed Peas recipe (serves 4):
1 lb leftover roast pork (chopped)
3 rashers of streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 stick of celery (chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 small red pepper (chopped)
1 small green pepper (chopped)
1 medium courgette (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
250g dry black-eyed peas (soaked and cooked) or use a 400g tin
a large squirt of tomato purée
a large squirt of anchovy paste
2 bay leaves
a large pinch of crushed chilli
a heaped teaspoon of hot smoked Pimentón de la Vera
a splash of sherry vinegar
a pint of homemade pork stock
extra virgin olive oil for frying
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Fry the onion in extra virgin olive oil until it goes translucent. Stir in the bacon and a large pinch of dry crushed chilli. Follow that with the carrot and celery, after the bacon has taken some colour. After about five minutes stir in the peppers, courgette and crushed garlic. Grate in the fresh tomatoes (chop in half, grate the wet side and discard the skin) – this Spanish technique is much quicker and easier than blanching! Sprinkle on the hot smoked pimentón, squirt in the purée and anchovy paste plus a splash of sherry vinegar.
Add the pork, black-eyed peas, two bay leaves and stir in the stock. Bring the heat up and season to taste.
Cover the cooking vessel and simmer gently for about 90 minutes. Check the seasoning and cook for a further 30 minutes uncovered.
Serve with rice, boiled potatoes or a hunk of sourdough bread and butter. This will go well with a robust Catalan red wine, such as Vinyes Velles Autòcton Celler.