I grew up eating southern peas and I hope I continue eating 'em until the day I die. I love the varying taste peas have, like the earthy taste different types of field peas bring about, the nutty taste of crowder peas, the buttery flavor of the many types of cream peas and wonderful tastes of black-eye and pink-eye peas. Then there are the many butter beans, great tastes that I can eat weekly never tiring of its taste and don't forget my other favorite, speckled butter beans. Yep, I do love all legumes.
I pretty near cook green butter beans like I do the Lady peas, a cream type pea, using a little less flavoring than say other varieties of field peas that produce a darker broth or pot-liker. I think the darker the pot-liker, the more flavor it can stand. The lighter the liquid, the more delicate the broth needs to be, all in bringing out the best of taste from the legume. This one today is kinda in the middle.
Now many times I put on a pot of butter peas which to me is the happy marriage of the best of my two favorites: the flatten disk-like green butter bean and a round orb-like field pea. Together an earthy, creamy mouthfeel with a buttery taste is just about the best thing going on a plate. Well, that and a few slices of ripe tomatoes with a vinegar bath. Now that is one fine combination.
this is how we do it
4 to 6 cups shelled butter peas, washed and sorted (frozen when off season)
smoked sausage link, ham, cooked fatback or other flavoring meat
chicken stock, about 3 cups
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small bay leaf
1 garlic pod
pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
several pods of okra if desired
couple pats of butter
Slit the sausage in a few places and add into a medium saucepan along with the chicken stock, onion, bay leaf, garlic pod and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium low. Simmer for about 30 minutes to make a nice stock which should reduce down to about 2 cups.
Add the peas. Make sure the peas are covered with about a half-inch of liquid, if not, add more stock or water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook slowly (not a boil) until the pea is creamy on the inside but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. If cooking with okra, add it at this time, return to the simmer and cook the 30 minutes. I like to turn off the heat and let the peas rest in the hot liquid for a while as I go about finishing up other supper dishes. Reheat if needed. To serve, use a slotted spoon to ladle into a bowl, add butter, stir and get ready for fine eating.
Suggestion: Serve in bowls with the pot-liker if desired and with plenty of cornbread.