“IT BETTER WORK, PAULA!” was my editor’s response when I proposed doing black-eyed peas for my Instant Pot recipe this month. All caps, just like that. At first I was confused—of course the recipe will work, that’s why I test it—but then I realized she meant the other part. The luck part. 

Because we need luck this coming year. Normally, I do fun, Texas-y riffs on these Instant Pot recipes—queso macaroni and cheese, mangonada chicken wings, Dr Pepper chipotle ribs—but not in this one. We need all the black-eyed peas we can get for 2021. After a disastrous 2020, I am not messing with the formula. We can’t take any chances! It better work.

So, a classic black-eyed peas recipe for your New Year’s celebrations is in order. But I found as I surveyed my friends that no two had the exact same idea for what makes a standard good-luck bowl of black-eyed peas. Some add tomatoes (if they are your preference, add one can of diced tomatoes and omit one cup of stock in the recipe below), while some prefer soup (double the stock). Some like the collard greens mixed in with the peas instead of on the side (if that’s you, add greens in the second round of pressure cooking, with the peas), and some prefer rice folded in (cook separately and add at the end, with the ham). 

Vegetarians, you can leave the ham out of this one and skip the first round of pressure-cooking altogether—a teaspoon of smoked paprika, added in right before the vegetarian stock of your choosing, might add a nice hit of smoke, though. And, as always, you can omit the chiles or double them, based on your spice level preference. You can also double the recipe entirely; tripling it might be a problem, though, depending on the size of your pot.

I tested this recipe with the presoaked black-eyed peas you can find at the supermarket this time of year, but I’ve included instructions for unsoaked, dried peas as well. You can also use any kind of crowder pea: purple hull peas are very nice.

No matter how you make these black-eyed peas, I truly hope they do the job. We could all use some luck.

Photograph by Jenn Hair Tompkins

Good Luck Instant Pot Black-eyed Peas

Serves about 4.

12 ounces black-eyed, purple hull, or other type of crowder pea
2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
1 onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, diced small (about ½ cup)
2 carrots, peeled and diced small (about ½ cup)
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 smoked bone-in smoked ham hock, about 1 pound
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  1. Put the peas in a strainer and rinse thoroughly with water. Set aside.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Melt the bacon fat or butter, and then add onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and jalapeño. Sauté until soft, about three minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock, ham hock, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set to cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Manually release the pressure.
  4. Add the peas and stir. Replace the lid, set to high pressure (with the “keep warm” setting on) for 15 minutes for dried peas and 8 minutes for presoaked. Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes and then manually release.
  5. Use tongs to remove the ham hock to a cutting board. Remove thyme and rosemary stems as well. When the ham is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and chop into bite-size pieces. Add them back into the pot.
  6. Add apple cider vinegar, and additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with collards, rice, and/or cornbread, and the hot sauce of your choice.