My easy-peasy recipe for Southern Field Peas with its full-flavored earthy goodness is a true old-fashioned Southern delicacy, and it’s as simple as it is tasty.
Depending on where you are from, you might not have ever tasted these creamy morsels infused with incredible flavor from the pork seasoning. I hope to change that with this post.
What are field peas?
Technically, the term refers to dried peas, like split peas. In the South, when someone talks about field peas, they are referring to any number of cowpea varieties like Zipper, Crowder, Purple Hull, Pink-Lady, and White Acre.
Cowpeas thrive in our hot, dry, sandy soils, and in the summer, our farmers’ markets are overflowing with many different varieties.
What’s the difference between Southern and English peas?
Legumes in the South are not to be confused with green round English peas. They have a completely different taste and texture and they are not even related.
What are snaps?
Many recipes call for snaps to be included, and you may have seen the term “field peas and snaps.” Snaps are simply immature pods, and many cooks like to add them when cooking.
How to blanch and freeze them:
Fresh peas should be refrigerated and used within a few days of purchase. However, they freeze well and, if you can’t cook them right away, you should blanch and freeze them.
To blanch, add them to boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately place them in a large bowl of water and ice to stop the cooking process. Once they are cool, drain and package them in plastic freezer bags or air-tight containers and place them in the freezer.
They will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months—no need to thaw before cooking them.
What to serve with them?
They also pair beautifully with most entreés and make an exciting and delicious side dish that is perfect for backyard barbecues or potluck suppers.
How to cook them:
Add bacon grease or olive oil to a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, add the onion and saute for about six minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Watch the garlic carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Add the ham hock or whatever pork product you are using, the legumes, water, kosher salt, and pepper. Add more water, if necessary, to cover the legumes by at least an inch and turn the heat up until it comes to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and let them simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Taste a few to check for seasoning and to see if they are done starting at about 15 minutes. If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes.
The fresher legumes are, and the smaller they are, the less time they will need to cook.
Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and serve immediately!
If you don’t want to use pork, you can substitute a package of dry, ham-flavored concentrate made by Goya. You can often find it in the Mexican food section of your grocery store.
Leftovers should be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to four days. They are delicious added to salads and can be used to make my famous Redneck Caviar Dip. They can be heated up in the microwave or a saucepan on the stove.
Fresh is always the best. But, if that isn’t an option, you can sometimes find them frozen. They also might be in a vacuum-sealed container in the refrigerated veggie section of your grocery store. I don’t recommend canned.
If you like this recipe, you might also like these popular posts: Zipper Peas Southern Fresh White Acre Peas, Southern Pink Lady Peas, Southern White Acre Pea Succotash, Tomato Salad and White Acre Peas; Black-Eyed Pea Hummus, Easy Southern Hoppin’ John, and Southern Black-Eyed Peas.
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Southern Field Peas Recipe
- 3 cups fresh shelled field peas with or without snaps
- 3 cups water
- 1 lb smoked ham hock can substitute 1/4 lb salt pork or leftover ham
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease can substitute olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Optional fresh parsley chopped for garnish
- Add bacon grease or olive oil to a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, add the onion and saute for about six minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Watch the garlic carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Add the ham hock, the peas, water, kosher salt, and pepper. Add more water, if necessary, to cover the peas by at least an inch and turn the heat up until the liquid comes to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. At about 15 minutes, taste a few to check for seasoning and to see if they are done.
- If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes. The fresher the peas are, and the smaller they are, the less time they will need to cook.
- Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and serve immediately!
**This recipe was originally published on July 12, 2018. It was republished on June 21, 2020, with expanded directions and tips.