Cowpea is a symbol of good luck and is considered a dish to be prepared on New Year's Day, at least in the southern United States. Here is a traditional method of preparing cowpea.
Serves up to 8 people
- 450 g of black-eyed beans.
- 2 cups of chopped cooked ham.
- 2 onions.
- 4 Italian tomatoes.
- 1 clove of garlic.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- 4 cups (1 liter) of water.
- 2 bay leaves.
Method 1 of 4: Preparing the Beans
Step 1. Wash the beans
Place the black-eyed beans in a sieve and wash them under cold running water.
Wash cowpeas, remove dirt and husks
Step 2. Place the beans in a pot of cold water
The water should cover the cowpea completely, but don't overfill the pot as it may overflow when it boils. Cover the pan.
Step 3. Boil the water
Heat the beans and water over medium-high heat until the water comes to a steady boil. Continue to boil for two to three minutes.
- Most beans soak in cold water for several hours, but cowpeas can be soaked in hot water to reduce the amount of time it takes to cook.
- It's not essential to soak your black-eyed beans, so this step can be skipped if you're in a hurry. Putting beans in water makes them softer, and also helps reduce the risk of digestive problems.
Step 4. Let it rest
Leave the black-eyed beans in warm water for 60 to 90 minutes.
Step 5. Drain and wash
Pour the contents of the pan into a strainer to remove the water. Wash the black-eyed beans one more time with cold water.
Method 2 of 4: Preparing the other ingredients
Step 1. Choose the best type of ham
For a more traditional flavor, use raw ham.
- Cowpea, technically, can be prepared using nothing more than water and salt. The flavor of the beans can be good on their own. However, it is more traditional to prepare them with pork and certain vegetables.
- Smoked ham is a good choice when cooking black-eyed peas using the slow cooking method. A ham on the bone also works well.
- If you want a sweeter taste, use a sweetened ham, such as a tenderloin with molasses and cloves.
- Bacon or pancetta are also popular choices to use in preparing cowpeas.
Step 2. Chop the vegetables
Vegetables should be cut into small pieces with a sharp kitchen knife.
- Coarsely chop the onions until the pieces are about 1.25 cm thick. Vary it, using a white onion or yellow onion for a richer flavor. You can also use a sweeter onion variety. You can also use 120ml of chopped dry onion flakes instead of sliced onion and save time.
- Chop the tomatoes into 1, 25 cm pieces, reserving the juice. To save time, you can use a 375ml can of chopped tomatoes. For a spicier touch, use a can of diced tomatoes with green peppers.
- Place the garlic on your cutting board and, with the wide side of the knife blade, squeeze it. Squeeze gently to open the garlic and remove the skin. Garlic can be used this way, or you can also chop the garlic into fine pieces with a knife. Alternatively, you can use 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Step 3. Heat the ham in oil
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook for 4 minutes or until the edges begin to brown, stirring constantly.
This step is only optional. You can prepare beans without frying pork first
Method 3 of 4: Cooking the Beans
Step 1. Mix the beans with the ham
Add the beans to the same skillet you used to prepare the ham. Stir beans with ham to mix flavors.
Step 2. Add onion, tomato, garlic and bay leaves
Mix ingredients until very smooth.
Step 3. Fill with 4 cups (1 liter) of water
Use cold water.
- There should be just enough water to cover the grains and vegetables, and the water level should not extend to the last three-quarters of the pot's height. The four measuring cups are just an estimate.
- If you haven't soaked the beans beforehand, you'll need twice as much water.
Step 4. Cover and bring to a boil
Place the lid over the pan and heat the contents over medium-high heat until the water comes to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes.
Leave the lid ajar to allow the steam to slowly escape. Doing so relieves the pressure inside the pan, decreasing the chances of the water boiling and creating a big mess
Step 5. Reduce heat and cook slowly, adding more water if necessary
Lower heat to medium so that the quick simmer returns to a steady simmer. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 hours.
- You may not need to add more water. If the water level is below the beans, then add another glass of warm water.
- Once the beans are done, they should have a smooth, creamy taste, and the broth should be tasty and not watery. If the beans lose their shape, however, they have been overcooked.
- Taste the beans after the first hour. If not ready, keep checking every half hour.
Step 6. Add salt and pepper
Once you have finished cooking the beans, remove the pan from the heat and add any seasoning you like. Mix to incorporate any spices into the beans.
- About 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper should be enough, but you can add more or less depending on your personal taste in spicy food.
- If you used salted ham, adding more salt may not be necessary. For low-sodium hams, however, add 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) of salt.
Step 7. Discard bay leaves and serve
Remove the bay leaves before ladling the beans onto plates.
Method 4 of 4: Alternative Cooking Method
Step 1. Prepare ingredients as usual
Leave the black-eyed beans to rest in water and chop the vegetables.
Step 2. Add ingredients to crockpot
Mix the cowpea, tomato, onion, garlic, ham and bay leaves in the pan. Add salt and pepper. Cover and cook over high heat for 90 minutes or low for 3 hours.
Step 3. Discard bay leaves and serve
Turn off the pan and remove the bay leaves. Serve the cowpea while it's still hot.