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Spicy Black-Eyed Peas

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Paula Deen’s Spicy Black-Eyed Peas


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (16-ounce) package dried black-eyed peas, washed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water


In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside to use as a topping for the peas. Saute the onion in the bacon drippings until tender. Add the peas, diced tomatoes and green chiles, salt, chili powder, pepper and water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peas are tender. Add additional water, if necessary. Serve garnished with crumbled bacon.


If you were raised in the south or southwestern parts of the United States, you will relate to the long held tradition of eating Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day.
The story began during that brutal and bloody war known as War Between the States, the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression. Military might and power impacted, without compassion, civilians, women, children and the elderly.
The Savannah Campaign began when Major General William T. Sherman initiated a “scorched earth” policy on November 15, 1864 as his northern army marched from the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, ending 38 days later on December 22nd, when it reached the port of Savannah. When the smoke cleared, those who had survived the onslaught came out of hiding to find that union troops had looted and stolen everything of value, including all food and livestock. Almost everything along their path had been set to the torch.
Survivors were near starvation. Little remained, but the Northern army couldn’t take it all. Survivors discovered that Sherman’s army had left silos full of black eyed peas. At that time, the black eyed peas were used as livestock feed. Northern troops saw them as a thing of little value and, after all, the army had taken all the grain for their horses, and had used the livestock and crops to feed themselves.
Southerners awoke to face a bleak new year in 1865, but soon discovered their very survival in the lowly black eyed peas. From 1866 forward, the tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s day became a Southern tradition and a symbol of good luck.

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