Monday, September 15, 2008

Field Peas

I'm a Northern transplant (and a picky eater as a child) so "field peas" ("cowpeas," "Southern peas"), in all their wonderful variety (and here for a slideshow), are pretty much foreign territory to me. But my husband grew up eating all types of peas*, and really loves them. In the summer, I can often find them shelled, packed in a plastic container, all ready to cook, so I'll buy some for him. I usually simmer them with some olive oil for flavor, and he's always happy to see them on the plate. Field peas were traditionally cooked by simmering them with fatback.

With our discovery of Benton bacon, cut into lardons by our friendly meat purveyor at Star Provisions specialty market, field peas have reached new heights (albeit less healthy ones). The fantastic hickory smoke flavor from the bacon permeates the peas, ever so subtly. I've become a field pea convert! The zipper peas, cooking above, were worth a meal in themselves.

I also cooked up some tiny cream peas and some beautiful pink-eyed peas (top picture), which are destined for the freezer and future enjoyment. The method: bring to a boil with olive oil or fatback (or bacon lardons!), then simmer until tender.

Here's a link to a good article (by a prominent Atlanta chef) about enjoying field peas.

*All of these Southern peas are technically beans.


Matt's Kitchen said...

These peas look so beautifully fresh and tender. I was just reading a Nigella recipe in which she processes peas, avocado, lime juice, and salt and makes a crostini topping for pumpernickel party rounds.

Now I am craving fresh peas, especially with the bacony taste you infused them with!

LD said...

mmmm.....field peas and purple hull peas, nearly impossible to find in my neighborhood. what i wouldn't give for a big bowl of them right now, with some cornbread.