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Purple Hull Peas and Mustard Greens in Smoky Potlikker

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Southern field peas come in seemingly endless varieties, the most well known of which are black-eyed peas. For this dish, it’s worth seeking out their sister, the pink-eyed purple hull pea that April McGreger, who makes Farmer’s Daughter brand pickles and preserves Hillsborough, N.C., knew growing up. They are sold fresh in late spring through the early fall in the South, but can be found frozen. Black-eyed peas will do just fine, though. This is a bold and brothy soup with plenty of what Southerners call potlikker, flavored with ham hocks for traditionalists or smoked turkey parts for a lighter version. It is essential to serve this dish with sturdy cornbread to soak up the potlikker. Ms. McGreger likes thin and crispy cornbread.


  • 2

    tablespoons oil

  • 1 ½

    cups finely diced yellow onion

  • 1

    cup finely diced celery (leaves reserved)

  • 1

    tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  • 1

    hot red chile, cut in half lengthwise

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 3

    small sprigs of thyme

  • 1

    pinch of allspice

  • 2

    small smoked ham hocks (about 2 pounds) or 3 pounds of smoked turkey wings or a smoked turkey leg

  • 1 ½

    pounds fresh or frozen purple hull or other field peas, or substitute 1 1/4 cup dried black-eyed peas (if using dry peas, soak in water for 6 hours or overnight and drain)

  • 1

    large bunch of mustard greens, or about 12 cups torn leaves, lightly packed to total about a pound

  • 1

    cup chopped tomato

  • 2

    tablespoons pepper vinegar, apple cider vinegar or a combination of the two

  • 1

    tablespoon sugar

  • 1 ½

    teaspoons kosher salt

  • ¼

    teaspoon ground black pepper

  • cup thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)

  • 2

    tablespoons torn celery leaves
  • Nutritional Information
    • Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

      178 calories; 5 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams dietary fiber; 11 grams sugars; 7 grams protein; 489 milligrams sodium

    • Note:

      The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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  1. Over medium heat, warm the oil in a large Dutch oven or other soup pot. Add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Don’t let the vegetables brown. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the chile, bay leaves, thyme and allspice.
  2. If using ham hocks, add them along with 10 cups of water, bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Partly cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. If using smoked turkey wings or legs, add 9 cups of water, bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Partly cover with lid and simmer for one hour.
  3. Stir in the peas, partly cover the pot with the lid and simmer until the peas are tender. This will take about 20 minutes for fresh or frozen peas or as long as 1 1/2 hours for peas that were dried and soaked.
  4. While the beans cook, wash the mustard greens in several changes of water. Taste a leaf to be certain they are not gritty. Tear the greens into bite-size pieces and discard the tough middle stem. Alternately, pre-cut, bagged mustard greens can be used.
  5. Remove the hocks or wings to a platter and cool. Take the meat off the bone, chop and add to the pot. Discard any skin and connective tissue.
  6. Add the shredded mustard greens and tomatoes to the pot and simmer just until the greens are wilted, or about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper and green onions. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm, shallow bowls and scatter a few celery leaves on top. Serve with cornbread and pass pepper vinegar or hot sauce at the table.
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