Black-Eyed Peas with Chorizo and Guiso
The most definitive preparation of black-eyed peas and beans throughout Latin America is to flavor them generously with pork. African slaves worked as cooks in many houses during the colonial era, and when the Spanish conquistadores departed, the foods they left behind were only those they thought were of little value. The slaves mixed dried beans and peas with pig’s legs, tail and rib bones, giving the beans deep flavor and crisp, tasty bits of meat. The guiso, or seasoning sauce, is a traditional criollo accompaniment.
- 1/2 lb. dried black-eyed peas (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 lb. dry-cured chorizo, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
For the guiso:
- 3 Tbs. olive oil, as needed
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup minced green onions, white and tender green portions
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 3/4 cup seeded and finely diced ají dulce peppers or sweet Italian peppers
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp. achiote paste
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
5 fresh cilantro sprigs, plus cilantro leaves for serving
Pick over the peas and discard any misshapen peas or stones. Rinse the peas under cold running water and drain. Place in a large bowl with cold water to cover generously and soak overnight.
Heat a fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo to the pan and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the chorizo to a platter. Reserve the pan with the rendered fat.
To make the guiso, add olive oil as needed to the pan with the rendered fat to make 3 Tbs. total fat. (If you prefer, you can discard the rendered fat and use all olive oil.) Warm the fat over medium heat, add the yellow and green onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ají dulce peppers, garlic, achiote, cumin, 1/2 tsp. of the salt and the pepper and stir to mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a wide pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Drain the peas in a colander and rinse well. Add the peas to the boiling water, reduce the heat and simmer until very tender, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tsp. salt and the cilantro sprigs and simmer to allow the flavors to blend, about 5 minutes. Drain the peas in a colander and remove the cilantro sprigs.
When ready to serve, spoon the peas onto a platter, top with the guiso and chorizo, and garnish with the cilantro leaves. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Latin Cooking, by Patricia McCausland-Gallo, Deborah Schneider & Beverly Cox (Oxmoor House, 2010).