Zipper Peas . . . done right
I wrote about this variety of pea some years ago, back when I told you about the four types of 'southern peas' and I gave you my recipe with the article back then, which is much the same way as I cook peas still today. Maybe a change here or there; both are southern as Dixie.
As mentioned, the zipper cream, invented by a Florida agronomist in 1972, is actually a cross between a crowder pea and a cream pea and the variety gets its name from the fact that the peas can be whisked from their hull in a zipping motion with the force from a finger. Now isn't that something? Most all peas are easier in shelling if you wait a day after picking allowing them to dry out a little and letting them detach from the shell. Do not over cook this type of cream pea as it will break down and become a creamy bisque before no time flat. These are called a creamer pea for a reason; meant to burst on your palate with a lovely, creamy texture and with the help of a good recipe, a southerly, flavorful explosion of good taste .... if I may say so myself.
Now, here is how I love to cook these little gems .... Enjoy!
My Recipe for Zipper Peas6 to 8 servings
1 strip of bacon, chopped
1 nice size slice smoked ham, chopped
1 large sweet (vidalia) onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 to 4 cups of fresh shelled peas (or frozen), washed
4 cups of rich chicken stock
1 bay leaf or 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme -optional
Cook the bacon in a medium saucepan until crisp. Add onion, garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until the onions begins to brown. Combine all other ingredients in the pan and bring to a rapid boil. Turn heat to low, taste seasonings adjusting if needed and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until fork tender.
Note: I pretty much always have a few pieces of ham left over after the many holidays we enjoy doing a ham - so I pretty much always have a freezer bag of ham. If you do not, be sure to buy a good brand of smoked ham, slice it or chop it up, divide it into portions and freeze it for recipes just like this one.