INTERVIEWING COOKBOOK AUTHORS can be hazardous work, causing unexpected detours to the grocery store in search of something you just suddenly must have–and then into the kitchen, to make something you just suddenly must try. Though I should be outside with my rake in hand, just such a side trip yesterday led me to a double batch of smoky, spicy barbecued black-eyed peas instead.
I was preparing to talk to cookbook author-food activist-cook Bryant Terry about his new cookbook, for an upcoming radio episode (more on that next week). But digging back through his earlier cookbooks, I came upon the idea of barbecued black-eyed peas.
They sounded like my barbecued baked lentils–but keeping in mind that “barbecue” never means the same thing in any two places. The difference? My lentils are more of a sweet barbecue sauce flavor; the black-eyed peas I “barbecued” inspired by Terry have a kick, and a smoky goodness. For my latest experiment, I took his idea of adding sautéed green pepper, plus chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (for heat and smokiness), and left out my usual molasses (one of two sweeteners I typically combine in my lentil recipe).
Either bean could be made with either sauce, I think. Here’s how it went.
smoky, spicy bbq black-eyed peas
Serve over brown rice with a side of warm soft corn tortillas, or even roll the rice and beans mix up in the wraps. Portion “extras” of the beans into freezer jars for later use.
- 6 cups soaked then cooked black-eyed peas (about 2 cups dry)
- liquid reserved from cooking beans
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced onion
- 1 diced medium green pepper (about a cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups whole tomatoes (I defrosted paste types, frozen from last year’s garden; you could use fresh, or canned)
- one chipotle chile in adobo, plus a little of the sauce
- 4 Tablespoons tamari
- 4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 cup tomato sauce (alternatives: ½ cup ketchup or ¼ cup tomato paste, either one mixed with ½ cup or so of cooking liquid reserved from beans)
- Presoak beans overnight. (Or skip the soaking, altogether, says recent foodie-world chatter. You decide.)
- Pre-cook beans in fresh water for about 45 minutes, or until barely tender, not fully cooked (which may be just 20 minutes, depending on if you soaked, and how long since the beans were harvested and dried).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Meantime, chop the onion, garlic, and green pepper, and sauté in olive oil until tender.
- Chop one large chipotle in adobo. Add it along with a little of the accompanying sauce, plus the tomatoes, to the simmering vegetables. (See note below on those spicy, smoky chiles if you don’t use them regularly.)
- Measure half (or about 3 cups) of the cooked, drained beans into each of two Pyrex 2-quart covered baking dishes (or all of it into one larger ovenproof vessel).
- Add 2 Tbsp. vinegar; 2 Tbsp. tamari; and 2 Tbsp. maple syrup into each dish of beans; stir.
- When the tomatoes in the sauté pan with the vegetables are soft, add half the mix plus half the tomato sauce or other tomato liquid into each baking dish of beans. Also add one-half cup of reserved black-eyed pea cooking liquid to each batch. Stir.
- Place dishes in oven, covered, for one-half hour, then uncover and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour longer. (If you used one large pot, the cooking will take longer, and your coaking and precooking times and the age of the beans if all part of the equation, too. See note below.)
- Use reserved black-eyed pea cooking liquid to make the beans more or less saucy as you choose as they cook down. I made mine dry-ish, as you can see in the top photo–just a matter of taste.
About those chiles in adobo: I used less than half the contents of a 7.5-ounce can, freezing the rest for my next batch. That created a fairly spicy bean mix, so be careful if you don’t like heat. Don’t like heat at all? Well, maybe you belong back at my traditional barbecue baked lentils.
More about timing and soaking: My latest batch, I soaked for maybe 4 hours, simmered for 30 minutes, and then baked for more than 2 hours, covered, then another half-hour, uncovered. As with pasta: try some along the way before you end up with mush!