Spicy Crock-Pot Black-Eyed Peas

On New Year’s Day, it is a common tradition for some folks to eat black-eyed peas.  I had never heard of such a thing until I married my husband.   His family always ate black-eyed peas on New Year’s…for good luck, he said.   So, I started making black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day too, not that I believe in luck, or that anything one can eat will bring good luck, but I wanted to carry on his family tradition, and because I LOVE black-eyed peas!

Black-eyed peas…yum!   I developed a love for black-eyed peas as a little girl, tasting these beauties freshly shelled from our summer garden.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

The eating of black-eyed peas for good luck is traced back to the time of the Civil War.   These peas were food for livestock and later food for slaves in the South, so crops of peas were largely ignored by Sherman’s troops.   Simple, but nourishing, the black-eyed pea became an important source of food for survival.  Thus, black-eyed peas brought luck!

What Does Tradition Say About How You should Eat With Black Eyed Peas?

Traditionally, in order to have luck and prosperity into the New Year, the following should take place:                                                                                                                                           (taken from http://gosoutheast.about.com/od/restaurantslocalcuisine/a/blackeyedpeas.htm)

  • served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, which varies regionally), the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas cabbage is used in place of the greens.
  • Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.
  • For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
  • Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.
  • In some areas, actual values are assigned with the black-eyed peas representing pennies or up to a dollar each and the greens representing anywhere from one to a thousand dollars.
  • Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year, unless of course, the recipient swallows the coin, which would be a rather unlucky way to start off the year.

Spicy Crock-Pot Black-Eyed Peas

This is the perfect recipe to make with leftovers from your Christmas ham.  I save about a cup of cubed ham for this recipe, as well as the ham broth.   If you want to make this into a soup, just add extra water or broth.   Since this is cooked in the crock-pot, you do not need to soak the black-eyed peas, but I like to give them a little boost by soaking overnight.  I usually try to sprout my peas a day or two ahead of time.   This recipe was adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/142892/slow-cooker-spicy-black-eyed-peas/

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight

1 quart ham broth, or water

1 onion, diced

1 cup cubed ham

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

1 15 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1 jalapeno chile, (I use seeds, but you can leave seeds out if you don’t like it as spicy)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin

salt, to taste

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to crock pot, and cook 8-10 hours.  Serve over greens, like collards, kale or mustard greens, and with corn bread.