I like to cook. Sometimes my daughter likes to eat.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Like many Bay Areans, I've adopted the African-American tradition of cooking up black-eyed peas for New Year's. Last year I made a very traditional version of Hoppin' John with ham hocks and collards, finished with a vinegar-based hot sauce. This year I never got around to buying my ham hocks and found myself looking at a few Niman ham steaks in the refrigerator case. Fortunately, my sister had scored me a link of Spanish-style chorizo at Fatted Calf. I reasoned that it would add some porky goodness as well as some heat, and what isn't better with that smoky paprika flavor? I finished the soup with Tabasco, the vinegar hit is an important flavor component, so if you don't like heat, add a jot of white vinegar.

I'm not crazy about black-eyed peas in most preparations, I find the flavor can be a little muddy. But this soup was wonderful, something I'd make again nomatter the holiday. It went perfectly with some jalapeno cornbread and a nice cold beer.
Truly, the pantry is the mother of invention.

Chorizo, Collard and Black-eyed Pea Soup

1.5 cups dried black eyed peas
2 medium yellow onions, small dice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup beer (not too hoppy)
2 bunches (about 15 leaves) collard greens
1 t salt
6 cups chicken stock
Tabasco or other vinegar-based hot sauce
Place the rinsed peas in a large-ish pot with 1/2 diced onion, the garlic and the bay leaf. Cover with 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Skim scum off the top, partially cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours. The fresher the peas, the shorter the cooking time. When the beans are done as desired, drain and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, quarter and thinly slice the chorizo. Saute the onion in 1 scant tablespoon olive oil, add the chorizo when the onion has softened. Keep heat on medium, do not allow the sausage to crisp. Saute ~5 minutes, then add the beer, bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and stew for another five minutes. The previously hard and dry sausage should be somewhat soft and crumbly.
While the chorizo is stewing, cut the collards off their stems and slice the halved leaves crosswise into 1/2 inch strips. Rinse thoroughly in cold water, use two rinses if necessary, then drain in a colander.
Add the collards, sprinkle with the salt, and stir. Cover the pot and braise the greens over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the greens are tender. [You can cook the greens much longer if desired, but I prefer them with a bit of bite left.] Add the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the black-eyed peas, simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, and finish with the hot sauce to taste. I used 1 teaspoon so that MZ could tolerate it, and we added more to taste at the table.
Riff references: Tijuana cornbread

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