Baked Black-eyed Peas

Don't restrict eating this black-eyed peas casserole only to New Year's. This filling dish is best made in a Dutch oven. And, note - it feeds a crowd. This recipe is from a larger article on comfort food casseroles.
  • 4 slices thick-sliced bacon (about 6 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 jumbo sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 packages (16 ounces each) dry black-eyed peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth (1-3/4 cups)
  • 7 cups water
  • 1-1/3 cups ketchup (14-ounce bottle)
  • 2/3 cup light (mild) molasses
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
In a 12-inch skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes or until browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Crumble the bacon when cool enough to handle. Spoon out 3 tablespoons bacon drippings from skillet into a cup and reserve. Discard any remaining fat in skillet.

Return reserved bacon drippings to the skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add celery, onion, and pepper, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are very lightly browned. Add garlic. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Rinse the black-eyed peas with cold running water and discard any stones or shriveled peas. Into a 6-quart Dutch oven, place the peas, bay leaf, chicken broth and water and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until peas are almost tender. Drain peas, discarding the liquid and the bay leaf..

In a small bowl, stir the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, sugar, bourbon (if you choose to use), mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt until blended. Return peas to the Dutch oven and stir in bacon, vegetables, and ketchup mixture until combined.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer pea mixture to a deep 4-quart casserole. Cover and bake for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate up to 48 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and bake, covered, for 1 hour, or until hot and bubbly.)

Makes about 14 cups or 20 side servings.

Prep time: 15 minutes; Cooking time: 1 hour 12 minutes; Total time: 1 Hour 27 minutes

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