Sunday, January 1, 2012


Black-eyed peas, the Spanish way.

Happy New Year, everybody! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

I missed my chance to lock in good luck for the coming year, Spanish style, by eating one grape on each bong of the midnight bells. Years ago, standing in the village plaza as the church clock chimed, I choked trying to swallow all 12 grapes on top of a quantity of cava (bubbly). Since then I avoid the grape ritual, either by surreptitiously eating them in advance of midnight or, like last night, just forgetting to buy any grapes.

But, a bit of superstition lurks, so today I am cooking black-eyed peas, the favored dish in the American South for New Year’s Day.

(For a traditional Spanish morning-after cure, have a look at the garlic soup recipe in this blog posting.)

The Spanish way with black-eyed peas is not so different from the southern one. The legumes are especially delicious cooked with fatty pork, pork belly or sausages. Nevertheless, if you prefer a vegetarian version, just omit the meat and add additional olive oil.

Add vegetables, as desired, to the pot—carrots or pumpkin, chard or cabbage, cut-up potatoes.

Char-roasted garlic cloves.
The black-eyed peas have a whopping whole head of garlic, but it is char-roasted before adding to the pot. This technique makes it easy to peel the individual cloves and gives the garlic a mild, nutty flavor.

Black-Eyed Peas with Tomato Sofrito
Potaje de Carillas con Sofrito

Serves 4.

2 cups dried black-eyed peas (14 ounces), soaked in water 8 to12 hours
½ cup sliced leek
1 cup sliced carrots or pumpkin
2 bay leaves
1 head garlic, char-roasted (see instructions below)
Pork, pork belly or ham hocks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
Red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika)
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Pinch of ground cloves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon wine vinegar

Drain the soaked black-eyed peas and place them in a pot with 6 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil and skim off the froth. Add the leek, carrots, bay leaves, cloves of char-roasted garlic and pork or ham hocks. Cover and simmer the peas 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion and pepper 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and pimentón and immediately add the tomato. Season with salt, cumin, oregano, parsley, cloves, and pepper. Cook the sofrito 8 minutes.

Add ½ cup cold water to the black-eyed peas. Bring again to a boil and stir in the sofrito. Cover and simmer until peas are very tender, 60 to 90 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar and cook 5 minutes longer.

Char garlic over flame.
To roast a whole head of garlic: Spear the head of garlic on a fork or grasp  it with tongs and hold over a gas flame (or put under the broiler), turning, until it is charred. Peel the garlic cloves, rinse in running water and add them to the stew.


  1. Me gusta mucho tu blog, así que me quedo para seguirte.
    Muchos besos!