Cast Iron

Black-eyed pea and pork quesadillas

December 30, 2009
0 Ratings
  • Makes hungry people happy.
Author Notes

This is what all people everywhere should eat on Jan. 2. New Year's dinner in many homes in the South involves pork, black eyed peas and greens. By Jan. 2, everyone is exhausted, and yet somehow still hungry. My sister and I discovered this hearty combination the day after New Year's one year in Seoul. The day before, we'd made pork loin and black eyed peas for two. The next day, after touring around Seoul in freezing weather, we were so cold and hungry we made this from our leftovers and ate it standing up in the kitchen. Now, I actually make it on purpose. But it should be something you can make easily on a weeknight, so long as you have some leftover pork in the fridge and some black eyed peas in in the freezer. I've never in my life thought to write a recipe for black eyed peas. It's like writing a recipe for toast. This'll be a first. —Teri

What You'll Need
  • Black eyed peas
  • 1 pound dried black eyed peas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 smoked hamhock
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Pork loin, if you don't have any cooked pork in the fridge
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Cajun creole mustard (I like Zatarains)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • grated cheese (I like a mix of white cheddar and mozzarella. Goat cheese would be so good, too.)
  • guacamole
  • sour cream
  • pickled jalapenos
  • Salsa, or anything else you like to eat with quesadillas. (For example, if your best friend went to Cochon and got you some green tomato relish, now would be the time to break it out.)
  1. Black eyed peas
  2. Soak peas overnight. Drain. In a heavy pot over medium high heat, start to brown ham hock. Brown on each side. Be patient. It might take 15 to 20 minutes. Put hock aside and evaluate pot. You need enough grease in the pot to saute a chopped onion. If there's too much (standing oil), pour some off. If pot looks dry, add one to two tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Chop onion and saute in hock grease/olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft and sweet but not too brown. (You can add carrot, celery or garlic, too, if it makes you happy. I'm more of a purist).
  4. Add cumin to the onion and fry for 30 seconds to a minute. You should smell the spice, but don't let it burn. Have water and peas on hand, just in case.
  5. Add peas to the pan and stir for a few seconds. Then add water. (You're very welcome to add pork, turkey or chicken stock. But water works just fine, so long as you have that ham hock.) The liquid should more than cover the peas, like soup. Add a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper. (Wait on the salt.)
  6. Add ham hock back to the pot. Bring to a boil, then take back down to a simmer. Slightly cover and cook until done, about an hour or 90 minutes. Stir and check the liquid every 15 minutes or so. The liquid should cook down and become like a thin gravy (pea liquor, if you're being technical). It should be just slightly more than a braise, though, so if it cooks down too much add more water. Toward the end, there should be slightly more peas than water.
  7. I'm sorry this recipe is so long. It's really quite easy. You just need a grandmother to show you how. Then you'll never forget.
  8. About 45 minutes into cooking, taste peas and liquid. The peas will probably still be toothsome, so just cook to your liking. But they might need salt; it will all depend on the ham hock. Salt at this point, about 1/2 tsp or so. Taste 15 minutes later to see if you need more.
  9. When peas are done to your liking, remove from heat. Pull out ham hock. When cool, you can pull the meat and eat it as an afternoon snack or save it for dinner. It's your call.
  1. Pork loin, if you don't have any cooked pork in the fridge
  2. After trimming loin of silver skin, put all four ingredients in a zip lock bag or in a bowl and marinate for at least four hours. If you do it in the morning before work, it'll be prefect that night for dinner.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dry off loin, discard marinade. If you have time, bring the pork to room temperature. If not, no one will arrest you.
  4. In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil and begin browning pork loin. After brown on all sides, pop in the oven to finish, usually 15 to 20 minutes. Once out of the oven, set meat aside to rest and clean the skillet. (Sorry, you're going to need it again.)
  5. To this point, I hope, you're still awake and you've already made the pork and peas long before. Assuming they are waiting for you, all you have to do is make the quesadillas.
  6. You'll need to blend about 1/3 of the peas and some of their liquor into a paste. I usually do it by hand, but if you have a blender or food processor (and a dishwasher) go nuts. Add back to the batch.
  7. Slice pork loin thinly after it's rested at least 10 minutes.
  8. Put one tortilla in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a schmear of peas, a layer of sliced pork and cheese. Cover with a second tortilla. When the bottom tortilla gets golden, flip (with the courage of your convictions). Let the other side get golden, then plate and slice. Serve with all your toppings.
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  • Teri
  • slulibby

2 Reviews

Teri July 1, 2010
You know, next time I'm also going to add some leftover vinegared greens to the quesadilla to make the New Year's leftover trinity complete!
slulibby July 1, 2010
in my family we ALWAYS have black eyed peas and pork for new years day. We have never done this application. Its so inventive--I will have to give it a try