by Cat, June 2008 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Other sites: 1. Emily Skinner Bean Recipes (3); 2. The Vegan Gourmet on dried beans & peas (great reference! (4))
Mmm, the mention of black-eyed peas makes my stomach growl in anticipation of beans in a rich skillet sauce. They are really a bean, but both beans and peas are legumes; and both benefit, nutritionally, by an overnight soak or by sprouting, before cooking.
This recipe has similarities to another skillet bean dish, Hoppin John, but is traced to the Cajun culture rather than to Carolina slaves.
Cajun Skillet Beans
This recipe is adapted from Emily Skinner.com (1), and Moosewood Cooks at Home (2), and serves 4. The Moosewood recipe is vegetarian, but I do think it is more authentic to use home-rendered lard, or home-cured bacon or ham (without nitrite preservatives). While canned beans and tomatoes can be used, soaking dried beans and chopping fresh tomatoes is far superior.
This dish is great for an outdoor cookout. Pre-cook the beans, then cook the skillet recipe right over the campfire in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven, or in skillet over a grill.
Most commercial bacon is smoked and heavily salted. I don’t like a lot of smoky flavor, as it overwhelms the other flavors. Much of the smoky flavor, as well as the salt, can be removed, by blanching:
Ingredients & Equipment:
Soak and Cook the Beans
- 1 cup dried black-eyed peas (or butter beans)
- warm filtered water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice per quart water
- ¼ tsp Unrefined sea salt
- ¼ – ½ pound blanched bacon, side pork or ham (optional), cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 bell peppers (green or red), chopped
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (½ tsp dried)
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano (½ tsp dried)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves (1 tsp dried)
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- pinch each cayenne & Unrefined sea salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or lard
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses or sorghum
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- chopped scallions
- grated cheddar cheese
- 3-quart pot or saucier
- cast iron skillet
Soak and Cook the Beans
- Cover beans with warm water. Stir in lemon juice and leave in a warm place overnight (24 hours). Check after a few hours and add more water as necessary.
- Drain beans, rinse and put in saucier along with fresh water to cover. If using bacon, add at this time. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer; skim.
- Simmer gently until beans are tender, 1 – 2 hours. Keep beans covered with water.
- About 20 minutes before the beans are done, add about 1/4 tsp of salt.
- Chop onions and mince garlic; set aside.
- Chop celery and peppers; set aside.
- Measure herbs and seasonings into a small bowl.
- Heat oil or lard in cast iron skillet over medium heat (if using bacon, cut it into 1″ chunks and cook lightly to release the fat). Saute onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add celery and peppers and saute another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add herb and seasoning mixture. Cover and cook 5 minutes, or until the onions are golden, stirring occasionally
- Add tomatoes, sweetener and mustard. Simmer for 5 more minutes to meld flavors.
- Stir in cooked beans, and cook until thoroughly heated, about 10 – 15 minutes.
Assembly or Serving ideas
- Top with garnish of chopped scallions and grated cheese, if desired.
- Great with steamed brown rice or bulgur, or with cornbread.