In the first half of Top Chef Season 4's finale in Puerto Rico, Antonia Lofaso was eliminated after serving a stew with seriously undercooked pigeon peas. To simplify the process and save time, Gail Simmons skips the pigeon peas and uses black-eyed peas instead, which do not require overnight soaking and cook right in the pot in about an hour. The result is a thick, luscious stew loaded with tender peas and spicy Italian sausage.
More Recipes from F&W EditorsMore Hearty Stews
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 pounds hot Italian sausages (about 8 links), pricked with a fork
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
One 14-ounce can Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
How to Make It
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until they are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a plate.
Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until any liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas along with the broth and water. Season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the black-eyed peas are just tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Cut the sausages on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices and add them to the stew along with any accumulated juices from the plate. Add the chopped cilantro, season with salt and pepper and simmer the stew for 10 minutes. Spoon the pea-and-sausage stew into deep bowls, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.
The stew can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Gail makes her hearty stew with dried black-eyed peas, the small beige bean with the black "eye." Black-eyed peas are particularly popular in the South, but they're also easy to find in supermarkets around the country. To make the dish more vibrant, Gail uses spicy Italian sausage, but if you don't like the heat, sweet Italian sausage is a fine substitute.
This hearty, down-home stew gets a kick from spicy Italian sausage; tannins tend to intensify the heat from spice, so pair this dish with a fruity, low-tannin red. The Barbera grape, native to Italy's Piedmont region, is unusual because it has deep color and lots of flavor, but very little tannic structure.
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