Southern Black Eyed Peas and Rice
Rice and beans, in one form or another, are the staple nourishment of much of the world's population. We often eat Indian daal (lentils) and rice, which serves the same purpose of providing protein to the diet of the many vegetarians in our home. I'm always looking to add some variety to my family's diet, and I discovered a new dish on a recent trip to New Orléans.
At least it was new to me. Black-eyed peas and rice is a very common dish in the American South. Prior to trying this dish, my only experience with black-eyed peas was in the Vietnamese dessert called chè đậu trắng. My husband likes black-eyed peas very much, so I made it for him using the same method for making Indian biryani, but with Southern ingredients.
Yields: 103 cups long grain white rice, soaked for at least 30 minutes
1 (16-ounce) package dried black eyed peas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
1 sprig oregano
1 sprig red thyme
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 (12-ounce) can diced tomatoes with its juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, roasted, seeded, finely diced
1 jalapeño, roasted, seeded, finely diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 cup cilantro , chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
For the black eyed peas:
Wash and rinse the black eyed peas thoroughly in several water baths (about three times) and set aside for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight. Drain as much water as possible.
In a medium-sized pot, add a tablespoon of oil with the sprigs of thyme and oregano. Add the garlic, half chopped onion and all the spices except the salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the diced celery and cook for another minute. Add about 3-1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil without covering then lower to medium heat for about 20 minutes. Season with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cover the pot with a lid. Cook for another 20-25 minutes on low. All the liquid should be evaporated. Add about 3 tablespoons of cilantro. Discard the sprigs of thyme and oregano. Set aside.
For the sauce:
In another saucepan, heat up the remaining canola oil. Cook the rest of the onions until nicely golden (may take 5-10 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, roasted jalapeño and green bell pepper. Cook for about 5-8 minutes.
Let the sauce cool a bit. In a food processor, pulse the mixture into a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
For the rice:
Fill about 4 quarts of water in another large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the soaked rice. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the rice is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook for about 7-8 minutes at a bubbly simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of salt half-way through the cooking process (it will bring the natural flavor of the red rice and the rice will be more tender). Keep stirring the rice every now and then so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot. It may take longer than the cooking time written on the instructions of the package but the grain of rice should still be firm. Drain the liquid from the rice using a fine mesh colander. Do NOT rinse. Discard the liquid. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In the same pot used for the black eyed peas, add about 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce. Stir well. Remove and reserve about half the amount of black eyed peas in a plate.
Evem the remaining black eyes peas in the pot. Add 1/3 of the quantity of the rice. Add another generous layer of reserved black eyed peas. Drizzle some soy sauce. Repeat the process above and finish with rice.
Drizzle about 1/2 cup of water to the rice. Seal the pot with an aluminum sheet and cover the pot with a lid. Place on the stove over high heat for about 4-5 minutes. Steam should escape from the pot. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, then gently stir the rice using long chopsticks without breaking the grains of rice or mushing the black eyed peas.
Garnish with some fresh cilantro (optional) and serve with the spicy tomato sauce on the side.
It's important not to cook the rice all the way through as it will finish cooking with the black eyed peas. If you cook the rice too long, it'll get mushy.
If you're not serving immediately, just leave the pot in the oven at 170°F (the lowest setting) until ready to serve.
Published By: on August 31, 2009.