The second leg of Sabasalads’ cross-country trip took us to Auburn, Alabama to visit the Sabas. This time, fried chicken was on the menu so we drove to the Opelika Farmers’ Market in search of something appropriate to go with it. The market was full of delicious midsummer produce: white and purple eggplant, okra, peppers, corn, figs and assorted field peas.
Field peas come in hundreds of varieties and go by many names, including crowder peas, cream peas and zipper peas. They are common table fare in the south, but are rarer in other parts of the U.S. Only the most popular variety, black-eyed peas, appears on a regular basis in Chicago, and almost always canned or dried. At Opelika we saw mostly pink-eyed peas with purple and green hulls (you can see them with their hulls in the top photo above).
Fresh field peas are usually cooked in water flavored with pieces of pork and served just like that. But since the corn and peppers also looked great this weekend, we decided to combine the three in a slightly modified version of succotash, a classic combination of corn and beans. We especially enjoyed being able to pick fresh thyme from the backyard herb garden to use for this meal.
Succotash with Field Peas
3 cups fresh field peas, hulls removed
4-5 ears of corn (use white if you can)
1/2 sweet yellow onion onion
1/2 sweet red pepper
2 serrano chilis
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil or butter
First husk the corn and bring a pot of salted water to the boil. When boiling, cook the corn on the cob for around 5 minutes, until just under done. Set the cooked cobs aside to cool.
Meanwhile, mince the thyme and garlic and finely chop the chilis, sweet pepper and onion. When the corn has cooled down, remove the kernels from the cob and set aside 1 cup of kernels for the succotash.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter in the bottom of a saucepan. Fry the onions until translucent, and then add the garlic, chilis and thyme, cooking just until they become fragrant. Add the peas and corn, coating them in the mixture, then add salt to taste and plenty of black pepper, and finally add enough water to just cover the beans and corn.
Bring the water to a boil and then turn heat to medium and simmer until peas are soft. This should only take around 20 minutes. If the water evaporates, add a bit more. There should be a bit of broth remaining when you serve the succotash. About 5 minutes before serving, add the chopped sweet red pepper and stir.
Serve hot with tabasco sauce or hot pepper vinegar. Succotash is of course good by itself, but it’s better with fried chicken, sliced tomatoes and other summer produce.
Epilogue: The Crawfish Shack, Atlanta Georgia (July 7, 2011)
Our trip south had a delicious ending in Atlanta Georgia where we enjoyed boiled crawfish, soft-shell crab po’ boys and sweet tea at the Crawfish and Seafood Shack on Buford Highway. If you’re in the Atlanta area and are craving seafood, go there!