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Crowder Peas

Crowder peas are my favorite common beans. They’re a light brown, bigger than field peas, shaped like red beans. They have a unique savory flavor that I find makes a great side dish. This version steers away from the bacon-fat, salt-pork kind of thing we do for red beans. I like to serve this with more rice than usual for beans, all mixed up. I use an aromatic rice for the purpose.

Crowder peas will also get a good response from those who insist on eating black-eye peas for good luck on New Year’s Day. Crowders and blackeyes are in the same family of legumes, but the crowders taste better. Happy New Year!

Lucky beans for New Year's eating. Counter-clockwise from lower left: blackeyes, green peas,  chickpeas, cowpeas (crowders), fava beans (lucky for Italians), and lentils.

Lucky beans for New Year’s eating. Counter-clockwise from lower left: blackeyes, green peas, chickpeas, cowpeas (crowders), fava beans (lucky for Italians), and lentils.

  • 1 lb. crowder peas, sorted, rinsed, and soaked for a few hours or overnight
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. savory (or oregano)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. hot sauce
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 cup (uncooked) popcorn rice, Konriko Wild Pecan rice, or basmati rice, cooked according to directions
  • 6 sprigs parsley, leaves only, chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and fennel and cook until soft.

2. Drain the crowder peas and add them to the pot. Add six cups of fresh cold water, plus all the ingredients through the brown sugar. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for one hour.

3. Check after an hour to see that the peas have not absorbed all the water. If so, add more. The pot should still have a soup texture at this point.

4. Cook another 30-45 minutes, until beans are soft but still in one piece. Remove the bay leaf. Taste for seasoning and adjust. There should still be enough liquid so that the beans have a stew-like texture.

5. Add the cooked, drained rice to the pot and gently stir into the beans. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

Serves about six.

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