The Best Recipe for Your Lucky Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day
Pickle the little legumes and never look back
Helen Corbitt, celebrated Texas transplant-turned-chef of the stars, famously hated black-eyed peas. Realizing their necessity for New Year's in the South (check out the history of this tradition, and recipes for Hoppin' John), she pickled the heck out of 'em to make them palatable. My mama made them every year using Corbitt's recipe, and I wouldn't have them any other way.
Learn from my 2018 mistake: Get your peas now, not on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, when H-E-B is a nightmarish hellscape, the black-eyed pea shelves are bare, and your fellow procrastinators are asking each other what things are like black-eyed peas or "Do they offer them in the freezer section?" You may end up finding some on an endcap, because H-E-B knows what's up, but don't put yourself in this situation. Plus, these are best consumed after all the flavors get married, and their relationship really blossoms after two days. Buy a few cans literally any other day of the year, and you'll be ready on NYE.
Helen Corbitt's recipe is attached, but a few notes: 1) "Salad oil" could be any light-tasting oil, such as canola. My mama reports that when "Saint Helen" wrote this in 1957, "We didn't have all these different oils. We had Wesson oil." 2) She didn't say what color onion or wine vinegar, but I like red. 3) I follow my usual rule for recipes on this one and double or triple the garlic (sorry, vamps). 4) It doesn't say to rinse the canning liquid from the peas, but I really feel like you should. You could also boil your own peas, if you're a kitchen overachiever.
2 15-ounce cans cooked black-eyed peas
1 cup salad oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1 clove garlic – or garlic seasoning
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
Drain liquid from peas. Place peas in a pan or bowl, add remaining ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Store in a jar in the refrigerator and remove the garlic bud after one day. Store for at least two days and up to two weeks before eating.