For many families, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is a flavorful tradition. Though the peas often get mixed reactions regarding taste, one restaurant in Irving has an award-winning recipe sure to please the toughest skeptics.
"Some people eat to live. We live to eat," joked Mel LeMane, owner of Po' Melvin's Down Home Cooking.
The family running this restaurant knows all about the luckiest legume.
"The story goes it brings you luck," said LeMane, who hasn't found that to be true for him.
"I've been eating them my whole life and my luck's not that great," he said, laughing.
Decades ago, LeMane said his dad entered their family's recipe into a competition at the State Fair of Texas, "and he actually won best of show," said LeMane.
His dad later sold black-eyed peas at the fair.
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"We had a stand in the Tower Building for five years," said LeMane.
So what's the recipe for their black-eyed peas? LeMane answered, "you know, it's pretty simple."
You start with a pound of hickory-smoked bacon.
"Any time you have bacon involved, it's gonna be good," LeMane said.
After the bacon gets crispy, add two or three bunches of sliced green onions and six cans of fresh-shelled black-eyed peas.
"Add a little beef bouillon, a little black pepper, and that's about it," said LeMane.
The longer it simmers, the better it gets.
"The gravy tends to thicken up a little bit," LeMane said. "The best part of the black-eyed peas is not the actual pea. It's the gravy that it's cooked in."
As for the luck part? LeMane said, "Maybe it doesn't work for me because I cook them, but maybe if you eat ours you'll have good luck."
Po' Melvin's – at 4070 North Belt Line Road #100 – serves black-eyed peas on their menu all year.
Po’ Melvin's (Irving) Black-Eyed Peas Recipe
1 lb. hickory smoked bacon, chopped
2-3 bunches green onions, finely chopped
6 small cans of fresh shelled black-eyed peas
6 cubes of beef bouillon
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and salt to taste (optional)
Sauté the bacon until brown and crisp. Add the green onions and sauté. Add the black-eyed peas and 2 to 3 cans of water, along with bouillon cubes and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, enough to allow some of the water to evaporate. Taste and add salt if desired, and/or a dash of Worcestershire sauce or Tabasco.