Black-eyed Pea Risotto

Black-eyed Pea Risotto

How many of you celebrated New Year’s Day eating black-eyed peas to bring you good luck for the New Year? Did you  eat Texas Caviar, Hoppin’ John, or just the black-eyed peas heated straight out of the can with a little seasoning? Perhaps you are like my husband who thinks that black-eyed peas taste like wood chips and manage to swallow one pea like a pill and hope that  is enough to bring you all the luck you need for the new year ahead. Not only did my husband not like the peas or my tradition, he wanted nothing to do with the wood chips. He grew up eating pork and sauerkraut on New Years Day.

As in all good marriages, you learn to compromise and this was an easy fix. I knew the Italian side of his family would love risotto, while his German side of the family would  love  spareribs and sauerkraut. My southern upbringing knew that we would make our own tradition by starting with a little bowl of black-eyed pea risotto followed by spareribs and sauerkraut. This is now OUR family tradition. And guess what…he loves the black-eyed peas this way. How lucky can I get.

If you are in the group that doesn’t like black-eyed peas or need to get someone you love to eat some for luck, then this recipe may change the image of this humble little pea (or bean as some people think of them). It is so good that you don’t have to wait until next year to give the recipe a try.

My recipe is actually simple but requires two steps. The first step to making you love black-eyed peas is making a stock from ham hocks. The good news is that not only do you get to have a wonderful stock to freeze for future uses, you get a small amount of flavorful  meat that will go into your risotto.

Ham Hocks/Stock

Put two smoked ham hocks (use one hock per person if increasing the risotto for more than two people) in a large pot, cover with water by an extra couple of inches, add a chopped small onion, one chopped carrot, one chopped stalk of celery, two bay leaves,  a sprig or two of thyme, a couple of garlic cloves and  5 or 6 whole peppercorns. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for a minimum of two hours (longer makes a richer tasting stock), skimming the liquid when necessary. Add additional water if needed. Remove the hocks when they are tender and falling off the bones. Let cool and then take the meat off the bone. Strain the broth and set aside to cool. * I do this step a day or two ahead. I refrigerate the amount of broth I will need for the recipe and freeze the rest in small containers. The stock is wonderful when cooking beans or greens.

Black-eyed Pea Risotto

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 c. Arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped, more is you wish a garnish
  • 1 can black-eyed peas, drained and washed*
  • cooked and shredded ham hock meat (see above)
  • 2 c. stock mixed with 1 c. water, heated and kept at a simmer
  • 1/4 tsp. or more, red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the stock, add the black-eyed peas and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove peas, set aside and keep stock simmering. Heat oil in a sauté pan, add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the rice, stir to coat,  and cook about a minute. Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Start adding the warm stock, a ladle full  at a time. stirring until absorbed. Continue adding liquid until risotto is creamy and done to your liking, about 20 minutes or so. Add the thyme, black-eyed peas and red chili flakes. Stir gently until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the reserved ham hock meat. (This serves two dinner size portions and can easily be increased accordingly.)

Variations to this dish are easy. *You can use dried black-eyed peas or frozen peas and cook according to package directions. If you don’t want to use ham hocks, use chicken stock and bacon for flavor. You can add diced peppers or tomatoes if you wish. Tabasco or other hot sauces can be served alongside or with grated Parmesan cheese.

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60 thoughts on “Black-eyed Pea Risotto

  1. The ham hock stock must make it:) I love pea soups and of course the stock is that in our recipe..Didn’t grow up w/ the black eyed pea tradition..but I have been reading about it..we love risotto!

  2. This sounds absolutely incredible Karen – I love the stock you make to use for this risotto – delicious!
    I never knew about eating black eyed peas for good luck – never to old to learn they say.
    🙂 Mandy

  3. Being a girl from South Texas I hate to admit this but we didn’t eat black eyed peas this year. I had full intentions of making some Texas caviar and it just never happened. I hope we have good luck anyway this year. Your risotto sounds like a great twist on an old favorite. I can’t wait to give it a try.

    1. Yes, we just returned on Sunday. We are finally getting back on schedule here with the time change. Anna did not do to well with the time difference this time and so we all haven’t slept much for the past few days. I didn’t have reliable internet while I was home in upstate NY so it’s nice to be able to read all my favorite blogs again. Happy New Year!

  4. Love your black-eyed peas and risotto idea. My very good friend is from PA, so our tradition is to go to their house for some pork and sauerkraut served over mashed potatoes. Man is that stuff good. I didn’t eat Black eyed peas until Jan 2. I acted like I was from the south and mixed them with collard greens and bacon. Very good. I wonder if waiting a day means I’ll only have 364 days of good luck?

    1. Hi Lea Ann, Thank you for your nice comment. Pork and sauerkraut is supposed to bring luck too from what I have been told so I think you will be covered for the entire 365 days. I’ll be cooking collard greens with some of my stock…delicious.

  5. I like how you mixed the nationalities to make everyone happy!! I’ve not done much with black eyed peas but with it mixed in risotto as you have done, really sounds delicious!!

  6. Both the stock and the risotto sound delicious. I’ve only made risotto once and never tasted black eyed peas so there are a number of taste treats in my future. 🙂

  7. This looks quite tasty! I enjoy the simplicity of beginning a New Year, I like your idea of mixing the beans with the risotto — this could be like Red Beans & Rice, only Italian-style! Good one!

  8. I love that you´ve started your OWN traditiona but incorporating bits and pieces from both your previous family traditions. We have done the same…it´s lentils here on New year´s Day and Big Man tolerates them … just! I think the idea of a risotto with the beans and that amazing stock must have been incredible – so many lovely flavours.

    1. Hi Tanya, Thank you very much for your nice comment. I know that you cook your lentils like I do from one of your previous posts. Try my recipe with your lentils. I still have to post my lentil recipe. Posting soon (I hope).

  9. I feel now very proud because after Greg’s post I know that black-eyed peas are a Southern tradition in the US 🙂 I think I have never seen them here (or maybe I have to check once more?). Your risotto sounds like a perfect Italian-American New Year fusion!
    I have just jumped to see your saurerkraut recipe! It looks terrific. I also add juniper to most sauerkraut dishes (apart from the last Hungarian one). I find it gives a smoky taste.

    1. Thank you Sissi, it really is a fusion meal. It would be interesting to know if black-eyed peas are available in Europe. Thank you for the compliment on the sauerkraut recipe. I do like the taste of juniper.

  10. Great bit of fusion cooking here, Karen. Just Sunday, Zia & I were talking about my using the raw leg bones from the porchetta to make split pea soup. Normally, I use 2 smoked hocks and some ham. We talked about boiling the bones first, with the ham hocks, to both cook them and to create a stock to use with the soup. Sound familiar? A good idea is a good idea! Maybe I should try to make a double batch so that I can make both your black-eyed pea risotto and split pea soup.

    1. Hi John, I was thinking about you and your porchetta recipe when I posted this. The more bones the better as far as I’m concerned. My broth was so rich and thick once it was refrigerated…it looked like jelly. You are right…a good idea is a good idea.

  11. I just made a very boring risotto last night with chicken stock and parmesan, This one is so much richer.. and the peas would be wonderful in it. I will try something like this next time. First i shall go back and study your recipe so that i remember your steps! excellent. thank you karen! c

    1. Hi Betsy, My mind is always thinking of new ways to prepare ingredients and this particular recipe was created to convert my husband from thinking that black-eyed peas tasted like wood chips. It is one of his favorite dishes now and he actually looks forward to eating black-eyed peas prepared this way.

    1. Hi Bam, A girl has to do what a girl has to do to keep everyone in a family happy. My black-eyed pea risotto was the perfect answer. And you are right, the most important ingredient in the recipe is the stock. That is why it appeared above the featured recipe. Thank you for visiting and your nice comment.

  12. We make a ‘risotto’ without the rice, just with the black eyed peas (we call them beans) woodland mushrooms. It’s just a delicious meal without meat!

  13. Honestly I’ve never had black eyed peas! I didn’t even know they were a tradition until I read a few food blogs. Your recipe looks the best though, I love risotto!

    1. Hi Ashley, Black-eyed peas are more common in the southern section of our country and have long been thought of as bringing good luck for the new year. The same can be said of lentils in many countries.

  14. I have never heard of eating black eyed peas for good luck – lovely to learn something new. I will have to go out and find some to try 🙂

  15. I did have my black-eyed peas, not too jazzed up, but also not from a can. I simmered them on the stove for a couple of hours and just added some onions and garlic, and some greens at the end. I was raised on these puppies…so unlike your husband, I can’t get enough. Your recipe really intrigues me and my family would enjoy the risotto! A big bump up from the ordinary! Yum! Debra

  16. “manage to swallow one pea like a pill and hope that is enough to bring you all the luck you need for the new year ahead” – ahaha, this made me chuckle 🙂

    I’ve never heard this tradition before… must be unique to the US maybe? How interesting – I enjoy the peas myself… love pulses/legumes and stuff so this would be something I’d really go for 🙂

    1. Hi Charles, I’m glad that I made you chuckle…you make me chuckle all the time. You are right…this is a tradition that is mostly observed by most people that grew up in the southern states of our country. I think each country has a tradition for bringing good luck for the new year. Twelve grapes in Spain and lentils in Italy are two that have been mentioned. How about England, France and Sweden…I’d love your input.

      1. Heh – I really don’t know to be honest. Sweden… nothing, as far as I know. France might have some… I’ll try to find out and get back to you. As for England… again, I’m not entirely sure, but they celebrate something called “Hogmanay” in Scotland, which is the last day of the year, going through to New Year’s day and they have a custom which seems to involve visiting random neighbours and getting rather merry 😀

      2. Hi Charles, Thanks. It really would be fun to know if others has traditions for luck. I’ve heard of banging on pots and throughing things out of the windows but I think I’d rather eat my black-eyed peas.

  17. This is such a good idea. It also sounds delicious. I have some ham bones in the freezer and I’m going to try your recipe using them. They are heavily smoked and I think they will work well here. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  18. A very inventive idea indead, and a perfect compromise. I used to make what we called a “hairy ham hock sauce”, made with stock and a tomato base at a restaurant I once worked at. We still talk about the great flavour of this. I look forward to reading more of your adventures.

    1. Hi Kathryn, With the frozen ham stock, you have all the good flavor necessary for a delicious risotto. I’ll be thinking of you on New Year’s day because I’ll be making it again then for good luck. 😀

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