[Originally written December 2008]
This Christmas, I was hankerin’ for some serious southern cooking. Maybe it’s my way of remembering mom, this being our first Christmas without her. Not that I visited as often as I should, I was a terrible daughter. Take it from me, if it’s not too late for you, call your mom now or better yet, go visit her. Don’t wait for regrets later. And certainly don’t think that just because she’s ‘not that old’, that nothing could happen. Make that one of your New Year resolutions.
There was a while when mom was kinda hard up and had to move in with me when I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. I wasn’t really vegetarian at the time and vegan wasn’t even on the radar yet. But I really didn’t look forward to coming home to a sausage or hamburger based dinner. And she really tried to be a good roommate by cooking dinner and all, but didn’t understand what was so gross about the hamburger. And I really didn’t know enough about cooking to provide any alternatives at the time.
Why am I rambling on about this? I think it’s because black-eyed peas and sausage, even vegan style, remind me of family. They make me think of the family sitting around grandma’s table eating corn bread pancakes, beans and everything bad for you. Or everyone sitting outside on cheap aluminum lawn chairs stringing beans, shelling peas and shucking corn for the canning season. I guess black-eyed peas are part of my memory palate. Like that super sturdy cornbread all the women in my family made. And all the jelly and preserves we put up every fall. Everything went into grandma’s cellar. I was always too afraid to go into the cellar because it had no lights, a mud floor, flooded when it rained and mom swore she once encountered a snake down there. It sounded as dreadful as grandpappy’s outhouse in Foxtown, Kentucky. Nope, I left it to the adults to retrieve all the canned goods on an as needed basis.
So, anyway, I’m getting a little off track here. Ah, yes, the recipe. This is so insanely easy and you don’t need a ham hock nor do you need to stew dried peas for hours. This is the easy way out and still reminds me of home.
New Year Black-Eyed Peas and Sausage (shown here with the collard greens option)
- 2 regular cans of black-eyed peas, NOT drained
- 1 8-ounce package of Upton’s Naturals Chorizo Sausage-Style Seitan, chopped or crumbled
- 1 cup of water with 1 or 2 Not-Chick’n’ broth cubes dissolved
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- a dribble (or about 3 T.) of olive oil
- Saute the onion in the oil until translucent and slightly crispy at the edges.
- Add the Upton’s Sausage-Style Seitan and sauté another 5 minutes or so, tossing with the onion.
- Add the canned peas along with their fluids and the dissolved broth. Give it a good stir and add more water if needed. Enough water to just cover the mess underneath.
- Cover and simmer for about an hour to mix all the flavors.
- At this point, I like to use a potato masher in the pot while it’s simmering to mash up some of the peas but not all of them. I have an immersion blender but I don’t want to blend the sausage, just mash the mess a wee bit. This also makes the broth a tad thicker although you do want to keep it a bit on the brothy side rather than the thickness of chili.
- Adjust salt if needed.
- Serve by itself in a soup bowl with a side of corn bread. If you’re not so traditional, you can also serve it over brown rice.
Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas: Adding sturdy greens and cornbread makes this dish a classic Lucky New Years meal. For the beans shown here, I added a goodly bunch of chopped collard greens to the cook pot after mashing the peas. This required another 30 minutes to cook down the collards but resulted in a very traditional-tasting black-eyed peas and collard greens dish full of vitamins but without the cholesterol.
A Note About Specific Products Mentioned
If you use anything other than the Upton’s sausage seitan or the Not-Chick’n broth, I can’t vouch for the results. These two combined sounds like a lot of seasonings but honestly, the broth that results is sooo good it will pass for an authentic pot-liquor. Just don’t forget the cornbread so you won’t have to use a straw.