CROWDER PEAS AND SPECKLED BUTTER BEANS

Crowder peas are native to western Africa.  They were brought to the US during the slave trade in the 1600s.  Another name for crowder peas is Coepeas.  These peas are heat tolerant and drought-resistant, making them very adaptable to the climate and weather in the southern states.  Crowder peas are from the same family as black-eyed peas.

CROWDER PEAS AND SPECKLED BUTTER BEANS

1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks, 1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke, 1 pound bag of dried crowder peas, soaked overnight, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1 1/2 cup purple onions, chopped, 1/4 cup green bell pepper, 1 (12 oz.) bag frozen speckled butter beans, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes.  Get out a heavy pot, add the ham hocks to the pot with enough water to cover the meat.  Cook on medium heat until the meat starts to fall off the bones, add the liquid smoke.  Get out a skillet and add 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings, onions, and bell pepper.  Cook until the onions’ edges are brown and soft, add the garlic to the skillet, continue to cook until you smell the garlic.  Add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic to the meat pot. Check the water level; if low, add another cup of water or a cup of chicken broth. While the meat is cooking, rinse and sort the peas.  Add the peas to the pot.   Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, add the butter beans, pepper flakes, and the chicken broth, cook for another 30 minutes. When the beans are tender, add salt and pepper to taste when you can mash them between your thumb and pointer finger they are done. The liquid around the peas should be creamy.  

I call this dish elegant soul food; serve these peas with hot water cornbread, steamed rice, grilled ribeye steaks, candied yams, and a simple salad with a glass of red wine on the side.

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