Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'll Have Black-Eyed Peas For New Year's, Please

It's a given that black-eyed peas will be somewhere on the Southern New Year's Day table. Legend has it that the Southern tradition has ties to the Civil War, when General William Tecumseh Sherman's Union troops carried off or destroyed all food, crops and livestock along their path, leaving only lowly, dried "field peas" behind because they were considered to be animal fodder. Guess they didn't count on Southern ingenuity, and luckily, folks found and cooked the dried peas to survive. The dried peas came to symbolize prosperity because they grew in size when cooked. Owner/Executive Chef Ford Fry of JCT. Kitchen & Bar loves everything about Southern regional food and takes the black-eyed pea tradition to a much tastier level. His recipe for deep-fried black-eyed peas with candied, crispy lemon makes a delish snack for the midnight hour on New Year's Eve.

Deep-Fried Black-Eyed Peas with Candied, Crispy Lemon

Serves 24 small portions


1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
1 stalk celery (cut in half)
1 carrot (peeled and cut in half)
½ yellow onion (peeled)
1 bay leaf

4 lemons
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. Italian parsley (finely chopped)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste



Soak the peas overnight in water. Strain the peas, place in appropriate-sized pot and cover with water by two inches. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and bay leaf. Simmer slowly until just cooked. Strain and chill. Discard the carrot, celery, onion and bay leaf.


With a peeler or small knife, peel off the yellow portion of the peel. Trim away any of the white. Slice into thin strips. Using a small pot, place in the water, sugar, salt and lemon strips. Simmer slowly for five minutes. Strain and chill.


Set up your fryer at 350 degrees. If using a pot, fill half way with canola oil (or pork fat if you like). Place a candy thermometer into it to monitor the temperature. Start by frying the peas as is for one to two minutes or until crispy then place in a mixing bowl and season to taste with kosher salt. For the lemon, toss the strips in the flour and dust off excess flour. Fry lemon for 20-30 seconds. Add to the bowl of crispy peas with the parsley and toss. Fill small cups for individual servings and stick a tiny spoon into the peas.

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