Although bean dishes in general are a great do-ahead and freeze beautifully — and this is certainly no exception — a slow cooker (with a 6-quart capacity) makes these a snap to prepare, largely the night before.
Spicy-Smoky East-West Black-Eyed Peas
- 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
- 5 cloves garlic, 3 chopped, 2 left whole
- 1/2 dried chipotle pepper, broken in half
- 2 large onions, 1 quartered, the other chopped
- 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, such as canola, soy or peanut
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
- 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons dark or light miso
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Additional water, or vegetable or chicken stock (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- Fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
- Last thing before you go to bed, rinse the black-eyed peas well and place them in the slow cooker with enough water to cover them by about three inches. Add the two whole garlic cloves, the dried chipotle and the quartered onion. Set the cooker to High, cover it, and go to bed.
- In the morning, heat a large, heavy skillet and add the vegetable oil. Add the chopped onion. Sauté, stirring often, for about 8 minutes. Add the carrots and continue sautéing, stirring often, for another 3 or 4 minutes. Add the celery and red pepper (if using) and sauté a few minutes longer. Finally, lower heat, add chopped garlic, and sauté 2 minutes more.
- Stir the vegetable sauté, along with the miso and sesame oil, into the simmering, now-tender black-eyed peas. Fish out the dried chipotle piece and discard it, and stir the beans very well to distribute the miso and sesame oil. If you like, scoop out ¾ of a cup or so of the beans and mash them, then add them back to the cooker, which will help to thicken the beans. Or, if you feel the beans are too thick, add a cup or 2 of water or stock. Add salt (beans need quite a bit) and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to Medium and continue simmering the beans for at least 1 hour. Your home will be filled with delicious cooking fragrances and, soon, even more delicious beans.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed just before you serve the beans.