Friday, June 1, 2007

Black Eyed Peas with Courtney's Secret Ingredient

Courtney's a friend of mine with about the most interesting string of careers you can wrap your head around, but that's a post unto itself. This lovely lady can slap-up cook, too. She brought some black-eyed peas to our house for New Years Day dinner one time and we ate them up and licked the bowl clean. She was reticent to share, but we gently coaxed her (held her hostage) into telling us the secret to making those peas SING with flavor. Shhhh... it's Sweet Vermouth. Is that weird? But yeah. It works.

Here you go in no particular order.

A 1 lb bag of shelled fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
A medium onion, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ham-flavored soup base (I'm trying to cut out most of the meat in my diet, here, people! But you could brown some bacon or ham and use that to season the beans as they cook, too.)
1/3 cup sweet vermouth
Salt/pepper to taste

Soften the diced onion in the olive oil over mediumish heat. Don't let the onions develop color, just let them get tender. Stir in the soup base then add the peas and mix it up so they get some onion/oil/ham flavoring all over them. Pour in the vermouth, then add water just to cover the peas. Allow that to come up to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Check water level (you don't want to let them dry up, but then again you don't really want to see a ton of liquid in them either) and stir. Continue to simmer slowly until the beans JUST begin to break down a bit, rendering them slightly creamy as you stir. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot.