dry pigeon peas, crowder peas, or small red or brown beans, such as red nightfall
celery stalks, finely chopped
medium green pepper, finely chopped
medium yellow onion, finely chopped
large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
thyme leaves, chopped
fresh-cracked black pepper
toasted or unrefined peanut oil
coarse smoked salt
chopped leafy greens (mustards, collards, turnips, radish greens, or a combination)
steamed white rice, for serving
In This Recipe
Soak the peas or beans overnight in a bowl of water to cover by several inches. The next day (or evening, if you started the soak in the morning), drain the beans, add them to a medium-sized, heavy pot, and cover them with 4–5 cups water. Add the bay leaf, a pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to about medium-low—you want the water to remain at a very low bubble with the pot partly covered. Simmer for 45 minutes or so, until the beans are just tender. If your beans are particularly fresh, this might only take 35 minutes; older, an hour or more. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and allow the beans to rest for at least 30 minutes. Leave them in their liquid; you'll need to use it later.
While the beans are resting, start the roux. Heat the oil in a 3- or 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, and whisk until smooth—a flat whisk works well here. Whisk the oil-flour mixture for a few minutes, then switch to a wooden spoon, and stir, constantly, as the roux begins to darken to a dark caramel color. The time it takes to reach this shade depends on the heat you're using, but count on around 20–30 minutes at medium-low.
Once the roux has reached a deep caramel color, add the onions, green pepper, and celery (the roux will coat the vegetables in a way that may make you think you're doing something wrong, but don't worry). Stir for a couple of minutes, add the garlic, thyme, and a good several grinds of black pepper, and saute for another 7–8 minutes, until the vegetables are light golden around the edges and begin to wilt.
Now pour off about 2 cups of the bean-cooking liquid, and pour it into the pot with the vegetables. Add the salt. Whisk well, bring to a simmer, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the broth thickens. Add the beans and any remaining liquid (you should have another 3/4 cup or so), and cook for a few minutes more. After about 10 minutes, add the greens, and simmer gently until their texture turns silken, anywhere from 2–3 minutes to 10. Season to taste with additional black pepper, and serve with white rice. Serve leftovers with more rice, or cornbread.