Monday, August 1, 2011

Purple Hull Peas

If you are from the south, you've no doubt eaten purple hull peas (a cousin to black eyed peas) at some point in your life. I've never particularly cared for them; I've always thought they were mushy and tasted like dirt.

Purple hull peas come in a pea pod that is purple, hence the name, and you have to shell them before cooking which also make them unappealing to me.   My blog friend, Lyndi (@nwafoodie) blogged about them today too, coincidentally, and she has some good pictures of what they look like before they are shelled.

This morning I stopped by a farmstand (local friends, you know that one in Johnson?) on a tip from a neighbor, and the gentleman there said his wife had shelled these peas this morning. I knew I had to give them a try.

While researching how to cook them, I learned that a city in Arkansas actually has a purple hull pea festival in June every year complete with a pea cook off, and this recipe was the grand prize winner a few years back. I see why. The peas aren't mushy, and they don't taste a bit like dirt. I did a couple of things differently, based on other recipes I had seen, but I didn't want to mess with a blue ribbon winner too much.... My kids ate every bit, too!

Purple Hull Peas

5-6 cups shelled purple hull peas

6 oz. centercut smokey bacon

half a yellow onion, root left intact so you can remove it

1 quart of chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut bacon into inch size pieces and lightly brown in a dutch oven. Do not drain bacon grease. Add washed peas and stock plus water to cover plus one inch. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Boil over medium heat until tender (about 45 minutes). Remove onion before serving.