The crazy part of August has officially begun. You know, when you fit a year’s worth of doctor’s appointments, a couple hundred bucks of back-to-school shopping, and a full weekend of summer fun into the last 120 hours before school starts. If you’ve somehow managed to miss the hectic rush into autumn, please tell me how you do it. Otherwise, I’m happy to commiserate with you over a comforting bowl of this ham and field pea stew.
This recipe is one of my go-to dishes during busy times since the slow cooker does all the hard work. Field peas, potatoes, onions and garlic simmer all day in a broth flavored with ham hocks. The result is a mild stew with tender hunks of meat, creamy peas and buttery potatoes in a smokey pot likker. Besides tasting great, the recipe is also inexpensive (more money for back to school shopping!) and I can prepare the raw ingredients up to four days before I stick them in the Crock-pot (just cut everything up and stick it in a resealable plastic bag until you’re ready to go.)
I love the way ham hocks taste after all day in the slow cooker. They impart a smokey sweet flavor into all the other ingredients, and there’s no need to season the finished stew. If you don’t have ham hocks on hand, or if your family doesn’t eat pork, substitute 3 vegan bullion cubes, 2 ribs of chopped celery, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke for the ham hocks and go ahead with the recipe as written. Taste the stew before serving and add extra salt, pepper or liquid smoke as needed.
Slow Cooker Field Pea Stew (serves 4)
1 lb. smoked ham hocks (2-3 total pieces)
4 red potatoes, chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups field peas
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Ingredients may be prepared up to four days ahead of time and stored together in an airtight container or gallon-sized resealable bag. When ready to cook stew, combine all ingredients with three cups of water in a three quart slow cooker. Allow stew to cook for 6-8 hours on low, undisturbed. Remove the ham bones before serving. I like to serve this dish with corn muffins.