Chile-spiced black eyed peas with sweet potatoes

Well, this is it. Another year is gone (good riddance 2020) and a long winter stretches ahead of us. While January is technically only 31 days, we figure those are dog days so it’s actually 217 days in total. Makes sense doesn’t it?

If your birthday is in January, apologies for disrespecting your month but be honest – wouldn’t you rather a summer birthday? But survive we will, each in our own way. Perhaps you’ve dusted off the backgammon set or taken up stamp collecting or knitting. Some of you may make like a bear and try to sleep your way through the month (just don’t forget your zoom call with the boss on Thursday morning…). 

Needs must, as my Granny used to say. But then again, no one ever really listened to her, did they? Basically, do what you need to do to make it through the month. By all means, take up a new language or simply try to remember your first one – we’re flexible.

And cook something…something warm and spicy and simple to fix. Take a bowl with you to you man/bear cave for a well-deserved nap and a long winter snooze.  

Serves 6

2 cups dried black eyed peas, rinsed

1 dried New Mexico red chile

1 red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. ancho chile powder

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

Salt

1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of one lime

To garnish (optional):

Chile pequin

Chopped cilantro

Additional lime wedges

Place the beans in a pot and cover with water by several inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add in the dried red chile, cover and let sit for one hour. Place back on the heat and return to the boil. Reduce and simmer until tender. 

While the beans are cooking, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and cook slowly until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and the ancho chile powder and cook for another minute before adding in the diced sweet potato. Cook for another 10-15 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked but still firm. Drain the beans, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Add the beans to the sautéed vegetables, plus a ladleful of the cooking liquid. Taste and add salt as needed. Cook gently until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice, chopped cilantro, a generous sprinkle of the chile pequin and lime wedges (if using). Any leftovers make the start of a smashing soup.

Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew


Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew

Think comfort food and you think winter. I think comfort food and I think, “Congratulations on making it through another day.” I pull the car into the garage, kiss the driveway (unless it’s summer when it’s so hot my lips would stick to the asphalt) and thank heaven I’m home. I can barely get in the door fast enough, close the curtains and breath a heavy sigh of relief.

Because, let’s face it, between work stress, traffic stress, and emails that ping into your inbox faster than you can delete them, we’re frazzled. We tired, pooped, caput, finito, my friend. What we need is a bit of comfort…that and a winning lottery ticket.

So I like to have a pot of pork, black eyed peas and sweet potato stew ready to heat up. It tastes great the first day and ridiculously good the next. Any leftovers you can pop in the freezer for a rainy day. Of course, I’ve never had leftovers but it’s a thought. And as with all things in life, a dash/jot/avalanche of chile makes it all so much better.

It won’t do your taxes. It won’t deal with that obnoxious know-it-all at work. And no, it won’t walk the dog. But it will handle just about everything else. Honest.

Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew.

Make this in a slow cooker or a real low oven, around 250°.

Serves 4

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. oil

1 lb. diced pork

2 Tbsp. Carne Adovada mix (or more to taste)

½ cups stock or water

1 can black eyed peas or other bean

2 small sweet potatoes (about 10oz total weight), peeled and diced

To garnish:

Lime wedges

Avocado slices

Cilantro

Heat a heavy oven proof casserole dish on the stove over medium heat. Sauté the onion in the oil until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Remove the onion and garlic to a bowl. Sauté the pork in batches, browning on each side. Add more oil if needed.

Return the onions & garlic back to the pan and add the Carne Adovada. Stir to coat. Add the stock or water until the pork is almost covered. Place in the oven (or you can use a slow cooker) and cook until the meat is tender – 2-3 hours. When the meat is almost done, add the black eyed peas and sweet potatoes and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more Carne Adovada  if desired. Serve with lime wedges, cilantro and slices of avocado.