A few months ago, we went to a traditional “soul food” restaurant for dinner and Paul could not stop eating the black-eyed peas. Seriously! He kept finishing an order and then ordering (and eating) more. In his defense, the portions were tiny.
While the blackeyed peas were delicious, when we inquired about getting some to go, they were going to charge us a couple of dollars per order. So to get a quart, it was VERY expensive. That’s when I decided to figure out a way to make them at home.
After a little trial and error, I’ve come up with a recipe that tastes authentic, is healthy and (here’s the best part) … can be made in a pressure cooker or Instapot in an hour. No more simmering all day long. No need to start the night before soaking and rinsing the beans.
The dish is overflowing with smoky flavor from the bacon, the (optional) ham hock and the smoked paprika. Even the vegetarian version sans pork has a delightful smoky essence.
And, this recipe is the textbook definition of fast and easy. You just chop up the veggies and give them a quick sautee right in the pressure cooker/Instant Pot. Then you add the broth, seasonings and blackeyed peas, set it and forget it.
A mere 20 minutes later, let the pressure release and … dinner is served. I like to serve this with cornbread or biscuits to sop up all of the delicious juices.
Don’t have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot? See Crockpot directions below.
Why We Eat Blackeyed Peas on New Years Day
Eating blackeyed peas for New Year’s has long been an African-American and Southern tradition. It signifies luck or prosperity, one of several New Year’s foods that are associated with good fortune.
There’s evidence that people ate black-eyed peas for luck as early as 500 A.D. as a part of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. But the tradition of eating black-eyed peas with rice is African in origin and spread throughout the South, especially in the Carolinas, in the form of pilaus or rice dishes simmered for a long time with chicken or shrimp. When black-eyed peas were added to the pilau, it became Hoppin’ John.
These smoky blackeyed peas are easy to make in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) or Crock-Pot and you do NOT have to presoak the beans. The advantage of the pressure cooker is that you can get them on the table (and into your mouth) in right about an hour. They get their smoky flavor from a mix of bacon, smoked paprika and a ham hock. But you can make a vegetarian version without the meat and it’s still delicious.
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 small bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
- 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced small
- 4 cups bone broth, beef stock or vegetable stock (I like Kettle & Fire bone broth.)
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1 or 2 slices bacon, chopped (omit for vegetarian or vegan version)
- 1 smoked ham hock (omit for vegetarian version)
- 1 1/2 cups blackeyed peas, dry
- (optional) 2 cups collard greens or kale, chopped in 2″ pieces
PRESSURE COOKER OR INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS
Turn the pressure cooker on to the sauté function. Add olive oil, onion, celery, and bell pepper, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to turn translucent.
Add the chopped bacon, thyme, smoked paprika, pepper, and salt. Stir.
Add the garlic and jalapeño. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
Add the broth, vinegar, and (optional) ham hock.
Stir in the black-eyed peas, and greens, if using.
Place the lid on the pressure cooker, locking it in place. Set the steam release knob to the sealing position.
Cancel the sauté function.
Press the Pressure Cook/Manual button (or dial) and use the + or – button (or dial) to select 20 minutes (for firmer beans choose 18 minutes).
When the cooking cycle has ended and the pot beeps, let it sit undisturbed for 15 minutes (15 minute natural release), then turn the steam release knob to the venting position to release the remaining steam/pressure. When the pressure is fully released, open the pot and give the contents a stir. If mixture is dry, you can add additional broth. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs before serving.
- In a skillet on medium high heat, add olive oil, onion, celery, and bell pepper, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to turn translucent.
- Add the thyme, smoked paprika, pepper, and salt. Stir.
- Add the garlic and Jalapeño. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Transfer mixture to crock pot. Add the broth, vinegar, and (optional) bacon and/or ham hock. I like to use both! Stir in the black-eyed peas, and greens, if using.
- Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Remove bay leaf and thyme springs before serving.
To make this recipe vegetarian, omit the bacon and ham hock and use vegetable broth.
Feel free to add an extra jalapeno pepper if you want it spicier.
Look for black-eyed peas in the bulk section at your grocery store.
You may need to ask the butcher where to find smoked ham hocks.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: recipe
- Method: pressure cooker
- Cuisine: soul food
- Serving Size: 1 cup
Keywords: soul food, instapot, hoppin john, Instant Pot, Crock-Pot