Traditional Black Eyed Peas

Traditional Black-Eyed Peas


  • 1 ham bone and any available drippings, 2 ham hocks or jowls, smoked or not, or 1/4 pound fatback, pork belly or bacon
  • 810 cups water, divided
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas,  brined 8 – 24 hours *
  • salt and pepper to taste


Prepare Pork:

If using a ham bone, no preparation is necessary. If using jowls or hocks, score through the fat to the meat in two to three places. If using fatback or pork belly, cut into several smaller chunks. If using bacon, dice and saute with onions and add in the garlic during the last minute of cooking.

In a large pot, add pork, onions, garlic, bay leaves and drippings (if using) and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and simmer until pork is tender but not yet falling off the bone.

Timing will vary depending on the size and type of pork you are using. A ham bone will generally take a good hour, hocks and jowls between an hour and an hour and a half, fatback can be cut into a chunk or two and tossed into the beans as they cook. Standard bacon is cooked with the onions doesn’t need any additional time.

Add black-eyed peas, bring back to a simmer and continue cooking until tender, adding additional water if necessary. Timing may vary depending on the age of the peas, generally an hour to an hour and a half, until peas are tender (hint: test more than one) and broth is desired consistency. See note.

If using a pork item with a bone, remove, debone and add the meat back into the pot. If desired, a few of the peas may be mashed with a fork or potato masher. Taste for seasoning. Serve over rice with Chili Sauce as an accompaniment.

Note: Generally Black Eyed Peas will be a bit thinner and soupy the first day but by the second will absorb more of the broth turning into a much thicker mass. Simply add more liquid into the peas the next day to return to the desired consistency.


To brine black-eyed peas (or other legumes) soak peas with 3 tablespoons salt in four quarts of water for 8 to 24 hours. Drain and proceed with recipe. Brined beans may cook more quickly than expected.

Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, black-eyed peas, Brine, Cook's Illustrated, Dried Beans, Freezes Well, Ham, Pork.

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