Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chipotle-Bacon Black-Eyed Peas

Chipotle-Bacon Black-Eyed PeasBlack-eyed peas are a Southern favorite, often enjoyed on New Year's Day in a dish called "Hoppin' John" that's supposed to bring good luck in the coming year.  In this simple recipe, the bacon and chipotle add a smoky-spicy twist.  Chipotle paste is usually available in the Mexican/Latino section of many supermarkets, at some gourmet or specialty-foods stores, or at tiendas in areas with a Mexican community.  If you can't find chipotle paste, you could probably make it in your food processor or blender using canned or jarred chipotles in adobo along with enough of the adobo (and a little water if necessary) to make a thick, spoonable paste.

I made this recipe with frozen black-eyed peas.  If using dried or fresh ones, you should follow package directions for soaking and/or cooking before adding to the recipe.  If using canned black-eyed peas, drain them first and your cooking time will probably be only 15 minutes or so--but continuing to simmer longer over low heat will produce a richer flavor.  Likewise, any leftovers will be at least as tasty, if not more so, when reheated.

This recipe serves four as a main course when served over cooked rice or quinoa (the latter is what I did, as shown in the photo on the left).  Another option is to serve the Chipotle-Bacon Black-Eyed Peas in a bowl with a slab of corn bread.  Southern-style cooked greens like collards, kale or mustard greens are an excellent side dish, as would be creamed spinach or even steamed broccoli or a simple green salad.  You control the peppery heat and smokiness by the amount of chipotle paste used.  And for a vegetarian version, simply omit the bacon altogether and substitute olive oil for the bacon fat.

Coastal Calliente - Chipotle Bacon - 2pk
Chipotle Bacon
6 slices bacon (chipotle bacon is an ideal choice)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups black-eyed peas (see cooking notes above)
1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 to 2 Tbs chipotle paste
Optional garnish: Oregano, chopped cilantro or parsley

Fry bacon until crispy, remove to paper towels and set aside, reserving 1 to 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the frying pan.  Add onions and garlic to the frying pan and saute until tender and onion is translucent.

Black-eyed peas with chipotle & baconCombine black-eyed peas, sauteed onions and garlic, broth and chipotle paste in a medium saucepan or pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  **Note:  If you have any concern about making this too spicy, begin with just 1 Tbs of the chipotle paste and you can always add more halfway through the cooking time.**  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Crumble in the bacon and stir.  Taste for balance and season with salt & pepper (or more chipotle paste) if desired--I find that the bacon and chipotles contribute enough savory flavor that I don't need to add spice.  Serve garnished with a little crumbled oregano or chopped cilantro or parsley.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you enjoy the smoky heat of chipotle (smoked jalapeno peppers), we have many different chipotle hot sauces from which to choose. I recommend El Yucateco Chipotle Hot Sauce from Mexico, Blair Q Heat Chipotle Slam Hot Sauce with habaneros added for extra heat, Melinda’s Chipotle Hot Sauce for a Caribbean twist, the flavor-packed and milder-heat Dave's Gourmet Roasted Pepper & Chipotle Hot Sauce, and southwestern-style Ring of Fire Chipotle Garlic Hot Sauce.

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