Driving around East Texas in the summertime, you're sure to pass a fair share of farm stands selling all sorts of fresh beans (or peas)—black-eyed peas, cowpeas, crowder peas and fresh pinto beans. And while most of us are familiar with cooking them either canned or dried, fresh beans have a bite and freshness that's a seasonal thing of beauty.
Robb Walsh, author of Texas Eats, keeps his Fresh Field Peas simple with a soul food-inspired recipe that begins (as many good things do) with bacon. Onions are sweated in the bacon fat, and the peas are added and simmered with chicken broth, with a few pods of okra as a thickener, and a lone chile for heat. Fresh peas don't need too much time on the stovetop; just simmer until tender and serve.
What Worked: Fresh beans cooked down with bacon, a few okra pods, and chile makes for a soul-satisfying side.
What Didn't: No complaints here.
Suggested Tweaks: If you can't locate fresh beans around your parts, feel free to crack open a can or two of black-eyed peas and proceed with the recipe.
Reprinted with permission from Texas Eats by Robb Walsh. Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- 2 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups shelled fresh field peas
- 2 cups water
- 4 or 5 baby okra pods
- 1 fresh chile
- Salt and pepper
In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it begins to brown. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the broth, stir, and remove from the heat.
Pick over the peas, rinse them, and place them in a large saucepan. Add the water, okra, chile, and the broth mixture, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the peas are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.