The Southern Zipper Pea is a type of legume called the Adzuki Bean. Zipper cream peas are also known as field peas or cowpeas (most common known cowpea is the black eye pea). Zippers are considered a quick-cook pea and do not need to be soaked before cooking. These legumes love the heat and can be found freshest in the summer months leading into early fall. Zipper peas are generally sold in their pods. Their name comes from the ability to easily “unzip” the pods to reveal the creamy peas nestled inside. For centuries zipper peas have been a staple in the southern kitchen. They cook up tender and creamy, but taste best with a bit of fat such as bacon drippings to help bring out their delicate taste and soft texture.
I have been a fan of zipper peas since my first memory of them. My Nana served them along side an amazing fried pork chop! Every time I take a bite of these creamy little pillows of goodness I am brought right back home to my southern roots, and a belly full of comfort food with a healthier spin. The recipe is simple yet delicious! This batch was made to compliment a wonderful spread of Spicy Honey BBQ Chicken and broccoli casserole (recipe coming soon). It was the perfect southern addition to this flavorful meal!
**Update September 2015: All I did to update this recipe was by adding in the details about what kind of pork I use. Just to make it clear that I do not recommend using commercially processed pork, and the use of it would make this an unhealthy version. Go with high quality meats and your good-to-go. Also, if you’re sensitive to legumes please avoid or tread lightly. I do not personally have any trouble with zipper peas, but can’t handle other types of legumes. Remember everyone has their own individual needs, and to feel your best you have to find out what is your personal Paleo/Primal code. For more information about how to attempt a Paleo lifestyle check out my post series: Take the Challenge Go Paleo!
Southern Style Zipper Peas
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups zipper peas
- 1 tablespoon bacon drippings (This bacon is high quality! It comes from a pasture raised hog from a local farmer. Do not use drippings from commercially processed bacon. You can sub out bacon drippings for 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp grassfed butter, or 1 tbsp ghee.)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 ham hock (optional but delicious addition/Pork is local pasture raised hog)
- Sea salt and Pepper to taste
- Rinse zipper peas and remove any debris.
- Add water, zipper peas, bacon drippings, ham hock, and seasonings to the pot.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer the peas for 45 minutes up to 1 hour until desired tenderness is reached.
- Remove ham hocks from the pot and remove the meat.
- Add the meat back to the pot and re-season if needed.
- Once taste is to your liking transfer to plates and serve with one of my delicious main dishes. Enjoy!