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Stephanie's black eyed peas & cornbread

(KATV Photo)

LUCKY BLACK-EYED PEAS à la Craig Claiborne

2 lbs. black-eyed peas (I prefer to use frozen vs. dried, but dried—or even canned—are fine!)

1/2 lb., about six thick slices, slab bacon, cut into 1-2” pieces

3/4 cup each, finely minced: sweet red pepper, sweet or yellow onion, celery

2 tsp. minced garlic (Craig doesn’t use garlic, but I like it.)

6 cups chicken stock plus more water or additional stock to add later

ground black pepper to taste

1 T. red wine vinegar

a pinch or more dried chile flakes—to your taste

salt to taste

a pinch or tablespoon, let’s be honest, of sugar—if you like it that way. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Put a large pot on the stove & throw in the bacon. Cook the pieces until the fat is rendered & the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan & reserve to add later.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease—do whatever you want with the extra.

Add the chopped red pepper, onion and celery to the pan. Saute till vegetables start to wilt. Add the garlic & sauté a few minutes. Deglaze the pan with a good splash of the chicken stock & scrape up any browned bacon bits left in the pan. Add the peas and the rest of the chicken stock. Check the level of the liquid and, if necessary, add more water to cover the peas about an inch. Cover the pot loosely – tilt the lid a little – and bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling grind in a good amount of black pepper, stir it well, turn down the heat & simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, checking the level of the liquid when you do, and add more water if necessary.

After those 45 minutes add the crispy bacon, the vinegar and dried chile; stir well. Check the level of the liquid & add more chicken stock or water. The peas should be a little soupy. Simmer for another 45 minutes or so, again stirring occasionally, & continuing to monitor the liquid.

Peas are ready when they’re tender & the liquid is a little thick.

Serve with a little cooked rice added if you like for Hoppin’ John.

Definitely serve with some good cornbread!

MAMA TOON’S MEXICAN CORNBREAD

2 eggs

1 cup cream style corn

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup corn oil

1 onion, chopped (about a heaping cup of onion)

1 cup plus 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (use pepper Jack if you like or your favorite shredded “Mexican” cheese blend—we like sharp cheddar)

1 cup cornmeal (you can also use self-rising corn meal mix see notes below)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (if you’re gluten sensitive omit see notes below)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1-2 T. minced jalapeno pepper—fresh or pickled—whatever you have on hand – we like the flavor of the pickled. And, some folks prefer green chiles.

In a small mixing bowl whisk together eggs, cream style corn, buttermilk and corn oil. Stir in onion & jalapeno pepper.

In a larger bowl whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Toss in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Mix in wet ingredients—stir well.

Grease one 8-inch square pan or standard size cast iron skillet. Get the pan really hot in the oven before you pour in the batter – this makes a nice crust.

Pour into prepared dish and sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or till center is set and top is crusty & golden. Sides should easily pull away from pan.

Let it cool for a few minutes before you do a test cut as soon as you can make a clean cut, cut it up & flip the pieces over so it’s not soggy on the bottom.

NOTES:

Might as well double the recipe so you can use the whole can of corn ; ) You’ll not have any leftovers no matter how much you make. This moist cornbread is still great the next day!

A double recipe makes one 9x13 dish or, for a flatter bread, you can bake in a rimmed cookie sheet—just like a sheet cake. Watch the shallow pan it might cook a little faster.

You can use self-rising corn meal mix—just omit the added flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

If you omit the flour plan on baking a bit longer—up to an hour or more. Check it after 45 minutes—the edges should pull away from the pan. This bread won’t dry out let it get nice & golden. The bread will not be as dense, but the edges will crisp up nicely. Let it sit in the pan a little longer to set up before you cut it.

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