Get your lucky pot of peas simmering for the New Year

This blog is a repost from last year. Why?

Because what’s not new about each New Year is this epicurean tradition: cooking a pot of black eyed peas.

If you read the post last year, it’s worth the review.

If this is your first time reading it, enjoy the story of history and hopefulness of a lucky pot of peas.

And if you’ve stumbled upon this story because you were looking for a delightfully delicious black eyed peas recipe, you’ve landed in the right digital place. Not only will you find it easy to make, but infused with favor, particularly from the use of Summer Savory.  A strong word of recommendation: DO NOT omit the Summer Savory – it’s essential and the secret ingredient that sets this pot of peas apart from others.

So, get that lucky pot of peas simmering on your stove top. Take a walk on the green side and make a healthy batch of my Brazilian Greens, and don’t forget the corn bread. It’s the only way to start the New Year.

Here’s wishing you a breakthrough, Happy New Year! Now enjoy this encore post, with a few tweaks.

Happy New Year

Yes 2015, we must bid you adieu so we can usher in a new year with new solutions, possibilities and opportunities.

In the United States, the New Year comes in with much fanfare and tradition,  like the New Year’s Eve Times Square ball drop.

But on the home front – well my home front and perhaps yours – I, my mom, brother, sister, West Coast and Southern family are getting ready to celebrate the New Year with an old tradition – a lucky pot of black eyed peas. It’s a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

black eye peas in pot

Lucky pot of peas simmering on stovetop

Black eyed peas are believed to have originated in North African. Grown as feed for livestock in the states, they became a staple food of enslaved African people brought to America. Whether this is history or folklore, I can’t remember a New Year’s Day without them.

I also can’t remember a New Year’s Day without the smell of smoked ham hocks wafting through the house and the sound of a tilted stock pot lid clanking back and forth on the stovetop, as the smoked meat vigorously boiled in water into to a rich and flavorful stock fit for the awaiting black eyed peas.

That pot of black eyed peas was like New Year’s gold. It became the preface to a great new year. Without them, you were taking your chances. With them, tradition says you were poised for a lucky and prosperous New Year. Have a side of greens (like collards) with those black eyed peas, and more of the green stuff, you know money, was destined to come your way. Pair that with a generous hunk of cornbread – which represents gold – and golden moments and memories would fill the New Year.

My family also practiced another New Year’s Day tradition that I clearly remember. Early each New Year’s Day in the early morning, the men of my family, traveling in pairs, would visit family members’ homes and wish them a Happy New Year. Family folklore said that for good luck in the New Year, the first person that crossed your threshold must be a man. I spoke with two of my dad’s remaining brothers, Uncle Moot and Uncle Tim. They said this practice dates back to the time of our enslaved relatives and it’s something they remember their father and grandfather doing while growing up in Alabama.

summer savoryI love this tradition. While I can’t dispatch my pair of well wishing uncles to your door on New Year’s Day to bring you good luck, I can leave you with a recipe for a lucky pot of black eyed peas.

I call it Sassy Black Eyed Peas because the use of Summer Savory, better known as the bean herb, gives ordinary black eyed peas a little “tude” which you will need to take on the solutions, challenges and opportunities of the New Year. I’ve been making this recipe for over 25 years and the only place I know to get Summer Savory by Spice Islands is at Ralphs or Kroger Market. Settle for no substitutions on this one. Just one teaspoon of this indispensable, peppery herb makes the best pot of black eyed peas to start your New Year off right. Happy New Year!

Sassy Black Eyed Peas

blacke eye peas plated alone

Sassy Black Eyed Peas with Smoked Turkey Tails


1 to 1 ¼ pounds smoked ham hocks or turkey parts (necks, tails, wings)
13 cups water
1 pound dried black eyed peas
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
5 cloves chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 generous teaspoon Spice Islands Summer Savory
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (go a full teaspoon if you like)
Cracked pepper to taste
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
2 cups organic chicken stock


blacke eye peas plated corn bread and greens close up

Black eyed peas, Brazilian Greens & corn bread

Add smoked meat to a large pot. Fill with 13 cups of cold water and boil for 1 hour. Turn off the heat. The broth that remains will be rich and flavorful. The smoked meat will be somewhat tender.

Add prepared peas* and all remaining ingredients to the broth and smoked meat contained in the pot. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer 1 hour, with lid to pot tilted, stirring occasionally. After 1 hour, remove from heat, cover pot with lid to keep in heat. Let stand 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with Brazilian Greens and honey cornbread or cooked brown rice.

Preparing black eyed peas*

Soak dried peas in 8 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt in a bowl overnight or least 6 to 8 hours. Drain and rinse peas in cold water.

Or for quick soak method, add 8 cups of hot tap water and 1 tablespoon sea salt to a large pot and bring to a boil. Add dried peas, cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse peas in cold water.

2 thoughts on “Get your lucky pot of peas simmering for the New Year

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year, happy new food – collard greens and caviar

  2. Pingback: Three variations and one wish for a Happy New Year – collard greens and caviar

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