If you were to ask Karl, Tony or me to name our favorite chefs, we would have some differences and a great many places where we overlap. A couple of our favorites are the hugely popular Jamie Oliver and David Chang. We all dip into The Food Lab (seriouseats.com) with Kenji Lopez-Alt who’s tag line is the enticing “Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.”
However, there are some chefs upon whose shoulders we stand. Julia Child (and her side-kick, the ever affable Jaques Pepin) introduced French cooking to the United States. A little later, Madhur Jaffrey did exactly the same thing for Indian Cuisine in England. This week’s recipe is clearly plagiarized from Marcella Hazan’s ground-breaking work “Essentials of Italian Cooking.” and is my standard blackeye pea recipe for New Years Day.
Like most “stews”, this improves with age. Do not be afraid to make it a day or two before New Years and reheat it. It will certainly make your time-management easier during those busy holidays.
Here are the ingredients according to Marcella – although, no matter how much respect I have for a chef, I can always improve upon it!
2 Tablespoons Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Teaspoon Garlic, chopped
⅓ Cup Carrot, chopped
⅓ Cup Celery, chopped
1 Cup Canned San Marzano Tomatoes, chopped
1 Lb. Luganega Sausage, (or other sweet sausage, such as bratwurst or breakfast sausage)
1 Cup Dried Black-Eyed Peas, soaked in lukewarm water for at least 1 hour before cooking
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper, if necessary
Here is how it panned out:
Soak a cup of Blackeye Peas in hot water for an hour. I boil a kettle and pout boiling water on them and let them sit. Another way to do it is to fill the pot with plenty of water and bring it to the boil, then let it sit for an hour.
While the blackeyes are softening, you should preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prep your ingredients. This should take less than an hour and you should have a leisurely stroll through the prep before the blackeyes are ready. Just don’t sit on your hands for an hour and then decide to put the oven on to heat!
I like to use Turkey Italian Sausage for this. It keeps it healthy for that New Year’s resolution. You can use whatever you want. This year I went full-blown Sweet Italian Sausage. In fact…
I had some bacon on hand, so I through that into the mix too!
I used half a large onion…
Two carrots and two stalks of celery…
I know that I prepped a bunch more, but I ended up using only 4 cloves of garlic.
Cut the sausage into 1 inch chunks…
And the bacon into pieces approximately the same size…
Brown them together in a large frying pan. Do not try to do it in a small pan or you will crowd the meat and “sweat” it instead of fry it.
Once you have browned the meat it should look something like this…
When you are browning, you are really just helping the meat to keep its consistency during the stewing process – otherwise it will soften and fall apart. Browning gives color and caramelization to the outside without actually cooking the meat through.
Put the browned sausage and bacon aside in a bowl.
Another benefit will be all of the browned meat juices and particles left on the bottom of the pan…
This is the tasty stuff! You will be deglazing the pan (a fancy word for mopping this good stuff up by adding liquid) with tomato juices soon. Keep reading!
Dice the onion…
You should chop your celery into slices…
And your carrots…
Fry your onion in the same pan that you just did your sausage and bacon until it is slightly cooked and an your celery and carrots to the pot…
Fry on a medium heat until the celery and carrots are beginning to soften and add four cloves of crushed garlic…
Stir-fry fo a minute or two and add a can of crushed tomatoes. This was a garlic and olive oil variety…
Bring to the boil while stirring and bringing the browned meat juices off the bottom of the pan.
Add the sausage, bacon and any accumulated juices back to the pan.
Place the contents of the pan and the blackeye peas to a sturdy oven-proof casserole or Dutch Oven. The original recipe says to cover the mixture with water. If you are a regular reader you will know that I always make stock from whatever carcass I happen to have to hand. This time it was Smoked Turkey Stock and I filled the Dutch Oven to just over the blackeye pea mixture…
Place the Dutch-Oven into a 350 degree oven and leave alone for 1.5-2 hours. You may want to check after and hour or so, just to make sure that there is liquid in the pot for the blackeyes to absorb.
Hearty and comforting, this recipe is a winner and will make a Blackeye Pea eater out of the fussiest of children.
Happy New Year, folks.
Place into oven covered, or uncovered?
Also why in the oven instead of stovetop?
Good questions. Philip is the author of this recipe, and he’s not available. I would say covered, instead of uncovered. I think the oven is best because the heat is coming in from all sides, not just from the bottom, and the oven heat is easier to control.
Thanks! I try to use the cooktop v.s. the oven due to energy use but that makes sense.
I hear you. A majority of my dishes are done on the cooktop.
Sorry to have left out those important elements. Always listen to Karl, he knows what he is doing…mostly! Covered -if you don’t cover it the liquid will evaporate and you be psalm me tough. You want a heavy casserole/Dutch oven so that the heat is consistent on all sides. You could do it on the stove top, but the results will be soupier. As for oven temp, unless you have a particular end goal, e.g. low and slow or hot and quick, your best bet is always somewhere between 350 and 375 degrees. I have now lived in the USA for so long that I cannot help our UK readers with a gas mark. Such is life!