1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. high quality frozen field peas
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 small fresh tomato, diced
3/4 cup diced ham
1/2 lb. pickled meat, pre-boiled with scum removed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups canned chicken stock + 2 cups water
1/4 cup flatleaf parsley, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 bunch thinly sliced green onions for garnish
First, take a heavy 4-quart stockpot or Dutch oven, place it on the stovetop, and pour in the olive oil. Then, over a medium heat and stirring constantly, add in the onions, celery, diced tomato, diced ham, and pickled meat and cook everything together until the vegetable mixture wilts and softens.
When all of these ingredients have totally combined, drop in the garlic powder, thyme, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper flakes.
At this point, pour in the 4 cups of canned chicken stock (but hold off on the 2 cups of water, reserving it until later if you find it's actually needed). Now (1) bring the contents of the pot to a rapid boil, and (2) stir in the field peas.
Once again, bring the stock back to a rapid boil but immediately reduce the heat to low, stir everything together one more time, cover the pot, and cook the bean mixture for about 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the peas are puffy and tender. Note: if some of the stock evaporates during cooking and before the peas tenderize, simply add in a little of the reserved water.
Finally, about 15 minutes before you're ready to serve the dish, stir in the minced parsley and adjust the final seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste.
Then, when you're ready to eat, strain off about 80 percent of the pot liquor, ladle out a hearty helping of peas into a deep soup bowl, and serve them up alongside the smothered chuck steaks, rice, and gravy.
Finish off the presentation by garnishing each bowl of peas and each plate of steak and rice with a sprinkling of thinly sliced green onions.
As is the case with red beans, white beans, black beans, navy peas, limas, garbanzos, black eye peas, Crowder peas, and pinto beans, field peas taste 100% better the next day; so don't be reluctant to cook them a day in advance.
I'm usually happy with just a ham hock and pickled meat in my field peas; but if you want to smother down links of smoked sausage into them to serve as a side dish item, go ahead! I suggest you put the links into the pot when you add the chicken stock and water.
This particular presentation highlights the peas as an independent side dish. Do not overcook them to a creamy consistency, similar to the way you'd do red beans or white beans. I recommend that when field peas are presented this way, they maintain their individual whole bean identity.
Oh one more suggestion. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the bowl of peas as they're served piques the flavor of the legumes to an extraordinary level!
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