Named Zipper Peas for the way the pod opens when the fibrous strand down its center is pulled, these peas are grown primarily in the southern states due to the warm climate. Freshly picked from their pods, zipper peas have a mild-flavor, are a great source of protein and a classic Southern comfort food. I make them often and enhance the flavor of the peas by using smoky bacon or a ham hock, chicken broth instead of water, and a sauté of vegetables. Serve over a heaping mound of rice topped with a pat or two of real butter and you are in business! Use the recipe below for most any type of fresh or dried legumes, including those ever popular black eyed peas that will be on plates this New Year’s Day!
2 tbsp. good olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh washed peas
(such as zipper creams, black-eyeds,
or butter beans)
2 1⁄2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 small smoked ham hock, like Benton’s
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups cooked rice, salt & peppered to taste
4-6 pats butter
1. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the peas, stock, and ham hock. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender and creamy, about 1 hour. (The time depends on the type and size of the peas.) Skim foam off top that accumulates and discard.
3. Remove ham hock, slice meat from bone, and chop; return meat to pan. Season peas with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve over rice and top with a pat of butter. I also serve with cornbread.