Ham Hocks and Black Eyed Peas are a Southern tradition on New Year's Day to bring good fortune in the new year.
My mother told my brother and I that we will earn a dollar in the coming year for every black eyed pea you eat on New Year's Day. That's what her mom told her and her brothers and Grandma was probably told the same thing.
I keep trying but, so far my piggy bank isn't busting. Ha ha!
Black Eyed Peas are traditionally served with Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread and maybe some Greens on the side. To make it into Hoppin' John, serve it on a bed of white rice.
Methods for Preparing Ham Hocks and Black Eyed Peas
My mother liked to use ham shanks instead of ham hocks because they have more meat on them. The hock is right above the foot, while the shank is closer to the shoulder. However, shanks are sometimes hard to find. I use my leftover Christmas ham bone so I don't have to buy anything else.
My mom's original recipe called for making ham stock separately then chilling and removing the fat. I think this step is unnecessary, but mention it here in her memory since she was the original creator of That Recipe. If you wish to do so, combine the ham hocks, water and bay leaves and cook in either a stock pot on the stove (cook at least 2 hours) or in a pressure cooker (20 minutes at high pressure with a quick release).
Traditional Stove Top Method:
The stove top method takes 2 ½ - 3 hours. Put everything in a big pot on the stove and cook until done.
Put everything in the slow cooker and let it cook for 6-8 hours on low, 3-4 hours on high.
The pressure cooker method takes about 1 hour. And, you do not need to presoak the beans unlike the other methods.
Other Tips for Preparing Ham Hocks and Black Eyed Peas
You can use frozen or canned beans if you prefer. For the canned beans, drain first and rinse. Cooking times will probably be shorter.
Cook them until they are as tender as you like. Some people like them a little firm others want them almost falling apart. Both are correct.
Black eyed peas, like most beans, can be served with a little bit of sauce or almost soup like, or anywhere in between. All are correct.
If beans are too soupy or on the dry side, do not panic! You are not a terrible cook, the recipe isn't wrong and, most importantly, they are not ruined (unless you scorched them on the bottom).
- To fix soupy beans: enjoy them as a soup, dipping some cornbread in is delicious, or drain out some of the liquid off or just serve the beans with a slotted spoon.
- To fix dry beans: add a cup of water and stir it in, adding more water if needed.
Ham Hocks and Black Eyed Peas
- 1 pound dry black eyed peas
- 4-4 ½ pounds ham hocks (shanks or ham bone with some meat still on it may also be used)
- 6-8 cups water (depends on method)
- 1 medium chopped onions
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (optional)
- 1 cup chopped celery (optional)
- Soak dried black eyed peas overnight per package directions (or follow package directions for quick soak). Drain and rinse.The no soak method: you can cook dry beans in the pressure cooker if you want to skip the soaking stage. Read the important note in step 6.
- STOVE TOP:In a large stock pot add all ingredients using 8 cups of water. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Stir about every ½ hour. Cook until black-eyed peas are tender, about 2 ½ to 3 hours. Add additional water if needed.
- SLOW COOKER:In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, add all ingredients using 8 cups of water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, high for 3-4 hours.
- PRESSURE COOKER:Add all ingredients using 6 cups of water and soaked or unsoaked beans to a pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. If you did not presoak the dried beans, turn the cooker off and wait another 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure. For presoaked beans: do a quick release of the steam. If beans are not as soft as you'd like, add some more water if needed and finishing cooking on high heat (called sauté mode in most electric pressure cookers). Or you can reseal and cook another 2-3 minutes on high pressure doing a quick release.
- ALL COOKING METHODS:Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove meat from bones and chop, add to beans and serve with cornbread.
Know someone that would love this? Share it!
Until next time, happy eating!
Teresa (embracing the spectrum)
If only we made ham...
I used can beans and did not think about cutting water so I have a soup. So if using canned beans I would cut water by a lot. Will drain and reserve some liquid and try and salvage this.
In the pressure cooker water doesn't cook off like it does on the stove. I will update the recipe. thanks for pointing it out.
What water? There is no liquid in the recipe.
I actually had the 6 cups of water listed in step 4, but I have added it to the ingredient list as well per your suggestion.
Great post. I used this recipe as a guide to cook black eyed peas for the first time using my new pressure cooker. I used fresh peas, ultimately cooking 44oz of peas for 11 minutes total.
I hope they came out well for you.
Steven K Widener
I am 71 years young and like you, I grew up with the tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year's day with the ham bone saved from Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. Always in a pressure cooker. Simple is best. not much salt as the ham takes care of that, chopped onion and garlic and the ole secret ingredient, Lipton powder onion soup mix, ha. Makes anything taste great. I use the overnight method, soaking with a teaspoon of baking soda, then throw that away. Old wives tales say that that cuts down on the gas issue. fresh water, garlic, onion, soup powder, and ham bone and pressure for 20 minutes. Of course serve with cornbread, but cornbread without sugar. God Bless our old folks that carried this tradition. My Mom would tell me an old friend had said that black eyed peas was actually cow feed, not fit for humans; but he must not have cooked them the way my Mother did, ha.
Oh sweet cake like cornbread is blasphemy to my mother ha ha!
I am going to visit my parents (95 and 93) for Christmas and I would love to make this for them but I will be long gone before the 1st. What is you opinion about freezing these yummy black eyed peas? Thank you for your time and I wish you a very happy holiday! Marti in Tampa
I always make too much and end up freezing the leftovers in a zip to lock freezer bag. Just be sure to leave room for expansion when it freezes. Then just let it defrost overnight in the fridge and heat it up (maybe add water if it seems a little thick).
Thank you so much! They will be thrilled to have these "good luck" black eyed peas?
Jess Powell (Babi a Fi)
This looks really tasty! I don't think I've ever tried cornbread, will have to give it a go. 🙂
Cornbread is probably more of a North American thing now that I think about it. Most of us, particularly in the Southern part of the US grow up on it.
My mom use to make this growing up. Loved it. I just got a pressure cooker for Christmas. I will have to make this.
I love my pressure cooker!
I grew up with this as my meal every New Year's Day! I thought it was just a southern thing... #FridayFrivolity
Grandma was from Texas, which isn't the South because "Texas is Texas" according to them, ha ha!
True southern cornbread has no sugar or flour--just cornmeal, buttermilk, salt and backing soda in a hot greased/buttered iron skillet.
One idea for leftover peas...they make a great salad cold with cut-up tomatoes,sweet pepper, celery etc.
Do you crumble the cornbread in a cup of buttermilk for breakfast the next morning? That was one of my mom's favorite treats.
Thanks for the idea of using the leftovers in a salad. That sounds mighty tasty.