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.