If you’re a fan of hearty, flavorful comfort food, then you’re probably already familiar with the classic southern dish of black eyed peas and ham hocks. This dish is a staple in many southern households and is loved for its deliciously savory and smoky flavors.
But if you’ve never tried making black eyed peas with ham hocks before, you might be wondering where to start. That’s where this article comes in! In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about cooking this dish to perfection.
First, let’s start with a brief introduction to these two main ingredients and why they’re so important in southern cuisine. Black eyed peas are a type of legume that originated in Africa and have long been a staple in southern cooking. They’re a great source of protein, fiber, and nutrients, making them a nutritious addition to any meal.
Ham hocks, on the other hand, are a cut of meat taken from the ankle joint of a pig. They’re a popular ingredient in southern cooking because of their rich, smoky flavor and tender texture. When combined with black eyed peas, they create a dish that’s both filling and full of flavor.
Knowing how to cook black eyed peas with ham hocks is an essential skill for any fan of southern cuisine, and in this article, I’ll guide you through the process step-by-step. So, let’s get started!
Ingredients and Equipment
To make this delicious dish, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 pound of dried black eyed peas
- 2-3 ham hocks (depending on size)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 cups of water or chicken broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Large stockpot or Dutch oven
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Cutting board and knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
Tips on Finding High-Quality Ingredients
When it comes to making this dish, the quality of the ingredients you use can make all the difference in the final result. Here are some tips on where to find high-quality ingredients:
- Look for fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. This will ensure that you’re getting the freshest and most flavorful produce and meat available.
- If you can’t find fresh ingredients, look for high-quality dried black eyed peas and smoked ham hocks at your local grocery store or specialty food shop.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher or grocer for recommendations on the best ham hocks and black eyed peas they have available. They may have some insider tips on where to find the best ingredients in your area.
Preparing the Ham Hocks
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Prepare Ham Hocks for Cooking
Before you start cooking your black eyed peas and ham hocks, it’s important to properly prepare the ham hocks. Follow these steps to ensure that your ham hocks are ready to be cooked to perfection:
- Rinse the ham hocks under cold water to remove any excess salt or debris.
- Place the ham hocks in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover them with cold water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the ham hocks simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Drain the water and rinse the ham hocks again.
- If you’re using smoked ham hocks, you can skip this step. But if you’re using fresh ham hocks, you’ll need to remove the skin by gently peeling it off with a knife.
- Score the fat on the ham hocks by making shallow diagonal cuts across the surface. This will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat more easily.
Now your ham hocks are ready to be added to the black eyed peas and cooked to perfection!
Tips on Selecting the Best Ham Hocks
When choosing ham hocks for your dish, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best quality and flavor:
- Look for ham hocks that are fresh or smoked. Avoid ham hocks that are cured, as they may be too salty for this dish.
- Choose ham hocks that are meaty and have less fat. The meat will be more tender and flavorful.
- If possible, buy ham hocks from a local butcher or farmer’s market to ensure that they’re fresh and high-quality.
By following these tips and properly preparing your ham hocks, you’ll be well on your way to creating a delicious and satisfying dish of black eyed peas and ham hocks.
Cooking the Black Eyed Peas
Are you ready to start cooking your black eyed peas with ham hocks? Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a hearty and delicious dish in no time!
Rinse your black eyed peas thoroughly and remove any debris or stones. Place them in a large pot, and cover them with about three inches of water. Let them soak for at least six hours or overnight.
Drain the soaking water and rinse the black eyed peas again. Add the ham hocks to the pot with the peas, along with enough water to cover everything by about an inch.
Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about two hours, or until the peas are tender and the meat is falling off the ham hocks. Skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface.
Once the peas and ham hocks are cooked, remove the ham hocks from the pot and let them cool slightly. Discard any bones, skin, and fat, then shred the meat and return it to the pot.
Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you prefer, such as garlic powder, onion powder, or smoked paprika. Let the mixture simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, until the flavors have melded together and the peas are fully cooked.
Tips for Perfect Texture and Flavor
Soaking the black eyed peas overnight is important for both texture and flavor. It helps to soften the peas and reduce cooking time, as well as enhance the overall taste of the dish.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with seasonings. Black eyed peas and ham hocks are a versatile base that can be enhanced with a variety of flavors, so feel free to get creative!
If the mixture is too thick, you can add more water or chicken broth to thin it out to your desired consistency.
Suggestions for Seasoning and Other Ingredients
For a smoky flavor, add a teaspoon of liquid smoke to the mixture.
For a bit of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or some diced jalapenos.
For a touch of sweetness, add a tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup.
Serve the black eyed peas and ham hocks with a side of cornbread and some collard greens for a classic southern meal. Enjoy!
Serving and Storing
Tips on How to Serve the Dish
Once your black eyed peas with ham hocks are cooked to perfection, it’s time to think about how you’re going to serve them. There are a few different ways to enjoy this dish, depending on your personal preferences.
One popular way to serve black eyed peas with ham hocks is over a bed of rice. The rice helps to soak up the flavorful juices from the dish and provides a nice contrast to the tender beans and ham hocks.
Another option is to serve the black eyed peas with cornbread, which is a classic southern accompaniment to this dish. Cornbread is a great choice because it’s easy to make and provides a nice crunchy texture to contrast with the soft beans and ham hocks.
Finally, you might choose to serve your black eyed peas with ham hocks alongside other classic southern dishes like collard greens, fried chicken, or mashed sweet potatoes. These dishes all complement each other well and create a delicious and filling meal.
Suggestions for Side Dishes and Accompaniments
If you’re looking for some ideas for side dishes and accompaniments to serve with your black eyed peas with ham hocks, here are a few suggestions:
Collard greens: These are a classic southern side dish that pairs well with black eyed peas and ham hocks. They’re also packed with nutrition and flavor.
Fried okra: Another classic southern side dish, fried okra is crispy, flavorful, and easy to make.
Sweet potato casserole: This is a sweet and savory side dish that’s perfect for the fall and winter months. It’s a great way to get your daily dose of vegetables and add some sweetness to your meal.
Guide on How to Store Leftovers
If you have leftover black eyed peas with ham hocks, you’ll want to make sure you store them properly to keep them fresh and tasty. Here’s how to do it:
Let the dish cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.
Store the dish in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
To reheat, simply microwave the dish until heated through, or heat it up on the stove over low heat.
If you have a lot of leftovers, you might consider freezing some for later. To freeze, let the dish cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight, then heat it up on the stove over low heat.
In conclusion, black eyed peas with ham hocks is a classic southern dish that’s beloved for its deliciously savory and smoky flavors. Knowing how to cook this dish is an essential skill for any fan of southern cuisine, and I hope this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to make it to perfection.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to create a dish that’s both hearty and nutritious, perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a comforting meal to enjoy on a cold winter day or a dish to bring to a potluck or family gathering, black eyed peas with ham hocks is sure to be a hit.
Remember, when it comes to cooking this dish, the key is to take your time and let the flavors develop. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different seasonings and ingredients to make the dish your own.
If you’re looking for more information on black eyed peas and other southern dishes, be sure to check out peasbenefits.com for more recipes, tips, and resources. With a little practice, you’ll soon be whipping up delicious black eyed peas with ham hocks like a pro!