Ah, frijoles de ojitos negros, or Vigna unguiculata, those little brown and white beauties with a black circle at the eye of the bean that hold more than just protein and fiber. From the dusty plains of northern Mexico to the vibrant markets of Oaxaca, these unassuming beans carry a story woven through generations, a tale of resilience, tradition, and a whole lot of flavor. A bean enjoyed by Mexicanos prior to the Green Revolution, when the pinto bean became king.
For folks rooted in Mexico's rural and indigenous communities, frijoles weren't just food – they were lifeblood. Cultivated for centuries, these hardy legumes thrived in harsh lands, offering sustenance when little else could. They simmered in clay pots over wood fires, their earthy aroma mingling with the scent of tortillas and laughter. They weren't just nourishment, they were a symbol of shared struggle, survival, and the deep connection to the land.
Then came the New Year's Day tradition – a custom believed to have sprouted from ancient African beliefs and adapted by Mexican communities. Eating frijoles de ojitos negros on January 1st wasn't just about filling your belly, it was about filling your future with prosperity. Each little bean represented a coin, a promise of abundance in the coming year. Legend has it, the more you ate, the more pesos you'd pocket. Now, that's a superstition I can get behind!
Of course, times change, traditions evolve. Today, you might find these beans adorning gourmet taco platters or blended into creamy dips. But their essence remains. They still grace New Year's Day tables, seasoned with love and hope for a bright year ahead. They're a reminder of our roots, a whispered echo of ancestors who made magic with meager means.
So, when you next bite into a bowl of frijoles de ojitos negros, remember the journey it took. Remember the hands that nurtured it, the stories it witnessed, the lives it sustained. And maybe, just maybe, give thanks for the little bean that holds a whole lot of history within its tiny shell, whether those African roots landed in Mexico or America.
¡Y Feliz Año Nuevo! May your year be as hearty and flavorful as a pot of perfectly cooked frijoles de ojitos negros.
- Black eyed peas - Rancho Gordo are the best!
- Avocado oil
- Onion, celery, and carrots (the veggie dream team)
- Jalapenos (remove vein and seeds for much less spice)
- Tomatoes -Pomme Crushed tomatoes are our favorite
- Baking soda (a secret ingredient for super-soft peas)
- Bay leaves and Mexican oregano
- Turkey Keilbasa
- Salt and pepper to taste (don't skimp!)
- Chicken broth or water
- Grab a big pot and heat up some oil.
- Toss in the onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté them until they're soft and sweet.
- Add those chopped jalapenos and let them sizzle for a bit, just enough to wake up your taste buds.
- Add the garlic and let it release its yummy magic for a few seconds. But don't let it get brown.
- Pour in the tomatoes and scrape up any yummy browned bits from the bottom. They're like flavor gold nuggets! Let the tomatoes and veggies simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the broth or water. Stir until mixed into to the veggies.
- Add the black eyed peas with their bay leaf and oregano buddies. Give them a good stir and bring the pot to a boil. Then, simmer for 1-1.5 hours until the peas are soft and cuddly, like a bedtime story. Add water if things get too dry.
- In the last 30 minutes, throw in the kielbasa bites. Let them party with the other ingredients until they're cooked through.
- Add salt and pepper to your heart's content. This is your dish.
- Serve your Black Eyed Peas - Chicana Style piping hot, with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro for fancy points and some crusty bread for dipping or over a bowl of perfectly cooked rice. Every bite is a celebration!
- Swap black eyed peas for pinto or kidney beans. They'll bring their own unique personality to the party.
- No lard? No problem! Vegetable oil or even butter can step in.
- Craving some smokiness? Add a smoked ham hock or paprika instead of kielbasa.
- Kick up the heat with habaneros or chipotles. Just go slow, you don't want a firestorm in your mouth!
- Add some greens, bell peppers, corn, or green beans for extra veggie vibrancy.
- Feeling fancy? Top it with crumbled queso fresco or a dollop of sour cream.
- Big pot or Dutch oven
- Sharp knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
Leftovers? Lucky you! Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or cool and freeze for up to 3 months (but honestly, still good at 10 months). Just reheat and enjoy another round of flavor magic.
For a thicker stew, mash some of the peas against the side of the pot. Trust me, the texture will have you swooning.
It's not mandatory, but highly suggested. Soaking does shorten the cooking time and makes them extra tender.
Sure, but it helps break down the acidity of the tomatoes and makes the peas even yummier. It's another highly suggested ingredient.
No worries! Add water to thin it out or mash some peas for a thicker consistency. Just keep tasting and adjusting until it's perfect for you.
Black Eyed Peas Chicana Style: A Celebration in Every Bite
- 1 Dutch oven or big pot
- 1 sharp knife
- 1 Spoon
- 1 Measuring cups and spoons
- 1 lb Rancho Gordo Black Eyed Peas cleaned and soaked overnight
- 2 tablespoon Avocado oil or high quality lard
- 1 Onion finely diced
- 2 Celery stalks finely diced
- 2 Medium carrots finely diced
- 2 Jalapenos finely diced (adjust heat with seeds and veins)
- 1 Container Pomme Chopped Tomatoes OR 2 cans diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- 1-2 Bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 2 cups Water or broth amount varies (see notes)
- 1 Turkey kielbasa cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat your chosen oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion, celery, carrots, and minced garlic to the hot oil and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until softened and fragrant.
- Stir in the diced jalapenos and cook for another minute, allowing the heat to bloom.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the baking soda and allow the tomatoes to simmer for 5 minutes, releasing their acidity.
- Add the soaked black eyed peas, bay leaves, Mexican oregano, and salt to the pot. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 1-1 ½ hours, or until the peas are tender. Add water if needed to maintain a liquid level.
- In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the bite-sized kielbasa pieces. Let them simmer in the flavorful broth until cooked through.
- Once the peas and kielbasa are cooked, taste the stew and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper to your preference.
- Serve the Black Eyed Peas Chicana Style hot, with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro or parsley (optional) and crusty bread for dipping.
- No soak: If you haven't pre-soaked your peas, use about 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of dried peas.
- Quick Soak: If you used a quick soak method, like boiling for 1 hour or microwaving for 5 minutes, start with 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of peas.
- Soupy: For a thinner, soup-like consistency, add additional water while simmering, ½ cup at a time, until you reach your desired texture.
- Stewy: For a thicker, stew-like consistency, start with the recommended amount of water and allow it to slowly reduce during simmering. If it becomes too thick, add a little additional water or broth.
- Remember, you can always add more water but you can't take it away. So, it's always best to start with a slightly less amount and adjust as needed.
- As the peas cook, they will absorb some of the water. Watch your pot and add more water if it starts to look dry.
Other Good Stuff
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
- Make sure your kielbasa is cooked through before serving. Internal temperature should reach 160°F.
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly to avoid any unwanted guests.