My kids as of today, are so obsessed with instant gratification. Everything seems to be resolved instantly for them. Finished reading a book? Download the next one. Forgot your homework at school? Another parent can text it over. Hungry? Have Uber deliver a meal. For this reason, I am so thankful that humans haven’t figured out how to grow plants with a tablet. At least not yet!
Under ideal conditions, bean seeds can germinate between 8 – 10 days. That’s the closest instantly gratifying thing one can find in the gardening world. So in the middle of our South Florida Fall, I decided to plant black-eyed peas with the kids.
They marveled at how quickly the seedlings sprung up and at how soon our beanstalks were wrapping themselves around the trellis.
Then reality hit when we started to open up the pods. As excited as we were to use the beans in a delicious recipe, we found that this would have to wait. We stumbled upon an important lesson. We were only getting six beans at a time! Never ones to give up, we decided to put in more seeds and collect the beans as they came in.
As Spring hit and I was changing plants inside my Nest Planter, I noticed that there were a few pods still growing.
I added some fertilizer and guess what! We started getting a better yield on our bean plants. Thank goodness we had the vision from the beginning to freeze our beans.
Slowly but surely we will fill our bag with black-eyed peas, even if it takes all year! Till then, we will buy them fresh from the supermarket to make this wonderful family recipe.
Braised Oxtails With Black Eyed Peas
We love to make this wonderfully rich dish for family get-togethers. This recipe is relatively easy to prepare with anticipation, as the flavors blend well together in the oven.
- one teaspoon of ground Allspice
- one teaspoon of tomato paste
- two large white onions finely chopped
- one bay leaf
- three garlic cloves
- three celery sticks
- one bouquet garni (a bunch of herbs, typically encased in a cheesecloth bag) of fresh parsley, dry bay leaves, and fresh thyme *
- salt and black pepper to taste
* Alternatively, dried herbs could be used but remember that as these are more potent, smaller quantities should suffice.
Prepare the oxtails by washing with vinegar and water. Trim off any excess fat. Place the celery, bay leaf, garlic cloves, and salt in a large pot with plenty of water to boil. Once the water boils, add the oxtails (just enough water to cover them). Next, place the burner on low and simmer. Cook for about 60-90 minutes until tender. The water should have mostly evaporated by then. Once done, place the meat in an ovenproof rectangular dish and let it sit while you prepare the beans.
You can begin cooking the beans in a separate pot when the meat is almost ready. If using dry beans, be sure to have soaked them the night before and wash them down with fresh water before cooking. Place beans and water in the pot; water should be just about an inch above the beans. When cooking beans, I prefer to start with a small amount of water. As the water evaporates, I add more to make sure they are covered. I feel you get a better flavor this way. Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat to reach a simmer. Cook the beans until fully cooked but al dente, which should take about 30-45 minutes depending on whether they are fresh or dry beans.
While the beans are cooking, fry the two chopped onions, Allspice, salt, and pepper in a tablespoon of olive oil until transparent. Go ahead and add the mix on top of the meat. Next, pour in the cooked beans. Include a few tablespoons of the water the beans cooked in. Mix in a teaspoon of tomato paste to give color to the dish. Make sure to stir all the items together.
When you are ready to heat up for dinner, place the ovenproof container in the oven at 350 degrees. Cook uncovered for about 40 minutes. The idea is to meld all the flavors together and crisp up the top of the oxtails. If you have an oven that can combine broil and convection cooking, go ahead and do so by placing the dish in the bottom half of the oven. Otherwise, you can choose to broil for a few minutes at the end of your cooking time while watching carefully, so the dish does not get overdone. Our family likes the food closer to the top of the dish to be a bit crispy on the edges. Enjoy!