Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Slow cookers, rejoice!

It's that time of year again, when comfort food is in demand. Want to make comfort food on a time & money sensitive budget? Then, break out that slow cooker and fill the house with smells you haven't experienced in months.

Recipe: Black-eyed Peas Soup
1 package of black-eyed peas (fresh, frozen or dried)
1 onion (peeled and diced)
2 stalks of celery (small dice)
2 carrots (peeled and diced)
1 garlic clove (peeled and diced)
5 cremini mushrooms (cleaned and diced)
2 tablespoons Slap Yo Mamma Seasoning (Or favorite Louisiana seasoning)
4 cups of chicken broth or 2 cups chicken broth & 2 cups of water
1 hamhock or 5 strips of cooked bacon or pancetta.
1/2 cup flour (to make a thickening roux)

Fresh black-eyed peas (BEP) are the best! They cook in less time and soak up all those delicious flavors. But, if you can't find fresh or frozen, dried works just as well. If the dried version is your choice, make sure to soak the beans overnight in cold water. I prefer a glass bowl and fill the bowl with cold water until the beans are covered. Seal with plastic wrap and wait (overnight) until beans have a bit of a give to them and some of other outer skins peels away.

While the beans are soaking overnight, cut the onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms and garlic in equally small dice and place in a sealed container (refrigerated) overnight. Don't worry; the small dice won't evaporate during the slow cooking process.

Once the BEPs have soaked poor out the water and drain the beans. Rinsing the beans is an option, but not necessary. Pour the beans into your slow cooker. Toss in the cut vegetables, Slap Yo Mamma Seasoning and stir to coat. Once the seasoning and vegetables are mixed well...cover with liquid, either broth and/or water. Gently submerge a hammock or cooked bacon. Put on the lid and set the cooker to low for 12 hours.
If using pancetta, cook the diced pancetta in a skillet, on the stove. Reserve in a covered bowl. Use the pancetta as a garnish when serving the soup.

When you arrive home the house will be filled with aromas that will  make your mouth water. But...wait. Gotta thicken the soup. Take 1 cup of the BEP juice from the cooker and place in a sauce pan. Turn the burner on low and stir in a 1/2 cup of flour. Whisk and cook the roux until the taste of uncooked flour is gone. Toss in a 1/2 stick of butter...and taste. Stir the roux in the soup and wait until the soup thickens about 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve warm in a big bowl with a slice of cornbread.

Cornbread recipe? Update to follow before Thanksgiving