Black-eyed Peas and Smoked Ham Hocks

By David J. Stewart

Black-eyed Peas and Smoked Ham Hocks

Use ham hocks or hog jowl in this basic black eyed pea recipe...


  • 2 pounds dried black-eyed peas (or frozen in a package)
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 6 cups pure water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Bertolli virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional for hotness)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


Use a 3-quart pan. If dried peas, pick over the peas and rinse well, place in boiling water for 1 minute, and then allow to simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the water while simmering. If frozen peas, just set to side for now. You can also use beans or split peas for this recipe, my favorite is the 15-Bean mixture which comes in a dry bag.

In a separate pot, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Place smoked ham hock into pot with sautéed onions and garlic and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, fill pot with pure water, bring to boil, then simmer on low heat for about 1 hour. 

Combine the ham hock mixture and beans into the 3-quart pan. Add the crushed red pepper, sugar and juice from fresh squeezed lemon (or 1 TBSP lemon juice). Fill pan almost to top with more pure water. Cover and simmer slowly 1 more hour or until peas are tender and ham hock falls apart easily. 


Serve with hot cooked white rice and cornbread.  Serves 8 people.

You'll need to add 2 to 3 teaspoons of Kosher salt at the end to get the desired flavor, but only add a little salt at a time. Too much salt will ruin your recipe. Not enough salt and your broth will taste bland. If you taste the broth after stirring, and it still doesn't seem to have enough flavor, add a little more salt and some fresh ground pepper. Pepper is potent, so you don't need much at all. I usually add about 1/2 to 1 tsp of fresh ground pepper.

Cooking is an art which takes time and experience to get good at. Peas and beans are excellent sources of fiber for your family, to give them energy and good health. 

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