smokey black-eyed peas

So, my love affair with black-eyed peas continues. This time, as a side dish, which was put together for a good cause.

The hubs and I volunteer occasionally at the Ronald McDonald House, which provides an inexpensive option for families with sick, hospitalized children to stay. It also feeds these families a freshly made, hot meal for free each and every night, which gives these challenged families one less thing to worry about while their child undergoes yet another surgery or a round of chemo. That's where volunteers like us come into play: we cook the food. I like that I can do something I enjoy that makes someone else's difficult day a little easier.

And, as it turns out, we have been paying it forward in an unexpected way. Our close friends just had a very premature baby in another state and had to stay in a RMH while the child was in the NICU. It just so happens that the new father was the man who did us a favor by marrying us. It was a nice full-circle realization when we heard how wonderful the RMH was for them, and I was super excited to give my time to the organization this week.

So, the theme of this donated meal was Southern vegetables and sides - a mostly meat-free meal beefed up (pardon the pun) with plenty of protein from bean dishes. I was asked to provide the black-eyed peas. I'm not going to lie, before I dropped them off, I dipped out just enough for me to eat as a snack the next day. And I can tell you that they are even better after they sit overnight. Enjoy - for a good cause or not.

Smokey Black-eyed Peas
Adapted from Epicurious
  • 4 hickory-smoked bacon slices, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  •  1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 2 (15-ounces) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  1. Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until browned but not crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Cook scallions, carrot, celery, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, red-pepper flakes, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in fat in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are pale golden, about 10 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, half of the bacon crisps and the broth and simmer five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and top with the remaining bacon. (Or cook in advance and allow them to sit overnight.)

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