Looking for the best black-eyed pea recipe? One that will finally, assuredly bring you good luck in the new year? No guarantees, but maybe this is this one. “It’s a superstitious thing,” says Julia Sullivan, owner of Henrietta Red in Nashville. Making a large pot of Southern black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is “something my mom has always done,” she says, noting that the side dish, often served alongside collard greens and cornbread, is said to bring fortune to anyone who eats it.
The dish is distinct from hoppin’ John, another New Year’s staple served across the South, particularly popular in Black Americans’ soul food cooking traditions. The later dish comprises field peas cooked with rice (or spooned over rice, depending on whom you ask), flavored with a ham hock or smoked turkey.
Sullivan’s black-eyed peas recipe is streamlined, requiring just bacon, diced onions, garlic, and thyme. Because the ingredient list is short, using dried peas is essential to developing a flavorful broth; no vegetable broth or chicken stock necessary. As with any legume, it’s advisable to soak your peas overnight (to cut down on their cooking time). Drain them the next day and bring them to a boil in cold water, then reduce the heat so the water barely simmers: dried black-eyed peas can overcook, and a rolling boil could cause them to break apart. Taste the peas often to check their doneness: They should be creamy but retain their shape.
Depending on how you spend December 31, New Year’s Day isn’t always an optimal time to cook. Thankfully, you can make this recipe up to 3 days ahead. Store the cooked black-eyed peas in their broth, in an airtight container, and reheat just before serving with hot sauce or pepper sauce.
Can’t wait that long to get lucky? Our friends at Epicurious have a recipe for Instant Pot Black-Eyed Peas, you can make in just about 10 minutes
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Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
oz. slab bacon, cut into ½” pieces (optional)
medium onion, finely chopped
sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving
garlic cloves, smashed
cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Warm 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add 4 oz. slab bacon, cut into ½” pieces (if using), and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the fat begins to collect in the pan and bacon starts to look shiny, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 medium onion, finely chopped and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 sprigs thyme, 4 garlic cloves, smashed, 2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained, and 8 cups cold water and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, skimming any foam from surface, until beans are tender, 35–45 minutes. Discard thyme; season with kosher salt.
To serve, drizzle beans with extra-virgin olive oil and top with thyme leaves and freshly ground black pepper.
Do ahead: Dried beans can be cooked 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.
Editor’s note: This recipe was first printed in our December 2017 issue. Head this way for our Best New Year’s bites, sips, and tips →