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Southern Summer Comfort: Olamaie’s Field Peas with Red-eye Gravy

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By Courtney Runn, Food picture by Bonnie Wright, Headshot by Alison Narro

Olamaie is known for its elegant Southern fare, and this summer dish is no exception. Inspired by an abundance of leftover country ham, Chef de Cuisine Bonnie Wright created this recipe as an ode to one of her childhood favorites. Suited for an evening dinner outside or a hearty serving of comfort, Wright’s recipe is the perfect addition to any summer menu. 

“Peas cooked with smoked pork were a staple in my house growing up, and field peas are in season right now, so this seemed like a good way to use all of our trim,” Wright says. “Squash and zucchini are also prolific in the summertime and are mild enough to pair well with the strong flavors of country ham and black coffee.”

FIELD PEAS WITH RED-EYE GRAVY AND SUMMER SQUASH 

Ingredients for the Peas  

1 pound fresh field peas (purple hull, creamer, black-eyed or whatever you prefer) 

1/2 cup country ham trimmings (or smoked jowl or bacon) 

1 3/4 tablespoons garlic

3/4 cup onion, quartered and peeled

1 bay leaf

5 cups water

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Zucchini to taste

Parsely, finely chopped, to taste

Bacon bits

4 ounces cold butter, cubed 

Directions for the Peas 

1. Rinse the peas and place them in a pressure cooker or instant pot. If cooking on a stovetop, place them in a heavy-bottomed pot. 

2. Add the country ham trimmings, garlic, most of the onion, bay leaf and water. 

3. Cook on low pressure for 28 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. If using the stove, simmer until tender. 

4. Dice the remaining onion and zucchini, charring the zucchini in a very hot cast-iron skillet until it’s black on one side. Cook the bacon in the oven until it’s very crispy and, once cool, pulse it in a Robot Coupe, chop or crumble it by hand or leave it in larger pieces. Set the leftover parsely, bacon and cold cubed butter aside for final assembly. 

Ingredients for the Red-eye Gravy 

2 1/4 cups country ham trimmings (or smoky bacon) 

5 cups black coffee

1/2 cup cold butter, cubed 1/4 cup sorghum 

Directions for the Red-eye Gravy 

1. Sear the ham or bacon in a pot on high heat to brown and coat the bottom of the pan with a layer of fond, or dark matter. Turn the pieces and watch carefully for about 15 minutes. 

2. Deglaze with coffee and reduce the liquid by half.

3. Strain out the meat and whisk in the sorghum and the cold cubed butter. 

Ingredients for the Summer Squash Purée 

1 3/4 cups yellow squash

1/4 cup yellow onion

1 tablespoon garlic

2 1/4 tablespoons benne seed 2 1/4 tablespoons butter 

Salt to taste

Lemon juice to taste

Directions for the Squash Purée 

1. Peel the squash and dice it. 

2. Julienne the yellow onion, mince the garlic and combine the ingredients in a pot with the squash, benne seed, butter and a little salt. 

3. Cook on low heat with a lid so it does not caramelize and does not lose too much moisture. 

4. Once everything is tender, blend it in a blender until smooth and adjust the seasoning with more salt and lemon juice. Strain everything through a chinois to make sure it’s very smooth. 

Ingredients for the Squash Rose 

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash Salt

Olive oil

Lemon juice 

Directions for the Squash Rose 

1. Using a mandoline, shave long strips of the zucchini and squash, about 1/16-inch thick. 

2. Spread the slices out and sprinkle them with salt so the strips release liquid and become pliable. Let them sit five to 10 minutes. 

3. Shingle three to four slices of alternating squash and zucchini, then roll them up into a rose and secure it with a toothpick. 

4. Dress the rose with olive oil and place it under a broiler for a few minutes until the edges start to brown (watch it closely). 

5. Right after removing, drizzle a little bit of lemon juice on top of the rose. 

Directions for Assembly 

1. Warm the squash purée in a pot and set aside. 

2. Warm up the peas in some of their liquid until it mostly evaporates, then add a few ounces of the red-eye gravy along with 4 tablespoons of cold cubed butter, stirring to emulsify. 

3. Stir the red onion, charred zucchini and parsley into the peas. 

4. Place the squash purée in the bottom of the bowl, then add the squash rose and spoon the peas and gravy on one side. 

5. Sprinkle the bacon bits on top of the peas. 


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