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Feeling Lucky?

At this time of year, we get kind of crazy in the office and sometimes use “Feeling Lucky?” as the subject line of our emails. While it certainly can get our recipients’ attention (if it doesn’t get spam-blocked), our real reason for this subject is that we sell Blackeyed Peas!

You may know that it is a Southern tradition to eat Blackeyed Peas and “greens” on New Year’s Day to bring good luck and prosperity. The greens — mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens or kale (all cooked in bacon fat, of course) — symbolize “greenbacks” (dollars) and the Blackeyed Peas symbolize coins.

Frieda’s has been selling pre-soaked, quick-cooking Blackeyed Peas for more than 40 years, and every year our warehouse refrigerators are filled to the rafters with boxes of these good luck beans. (We call them BEPs for short.)

I mentioned that it’s a Southern tradition to eat the Blackeyed Peas on New Year’s day. Many years ago, a woman named Cathy Perkins worked at Frieda’s — a true marketing genius. Cathy realized that EVERYONE wants good luck in the New Year, so she decided that Frieda’s should convince supermarket produce buyers to sell them nationwide.

So, if you live in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Houston, Southern California, or anywhere in between, you should be able to find Blackeyed Peas in your local supermarket produce department. I wish I could say that Frieda’s brand BEPs were the only ones you would find, but good news travels fast and we now have dozens of “competitors” all over the United States. That’s OK with us – it’s typical of product life cycles. (By the way, you can also find Blackeyed Peas in the frozen foods and dried bean sections.)

When we first introduced BEPs to non-Southern consumers, we had to provide recipes. The easiest way to make Blackeyed Peas is to boil them until tender and then add butter and salt and pepper to taste (I like them this way). But, the classic recipe for Blackeyed Peas on New Year’s is Hoppin’ John.

Frankly, we found the recipe a little mundane, so about 20 years ago, after we introduced Habanero Chile Peppers (which are 100 times hotter than a Jalapeno Chile), we decided to create a recipe using both Blackeyed Peas and Habanero Chiles – Habanero Chile Chili. This became my all time favorite Frieda’s recipe and is featured in my Purple Kiwi Cookbook.

If you’re in the mood to cook on New Year’s and you like freshly made chili, try this fantastic and flavorful recipe. And thank you to our former recipe developer and long time friend, Marlene Brown Oliphant, for creating this amazing recipe.

Habanero Chile Chili

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. lean round steak, cubed
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped red and/or green bell peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-oz. can kidney beans
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce – low sodium
1 cup beef broth
1 11-oz. tub Frieda’s Fast Cooking Blackeyed Peas (or 2 6.5-oz. pkgs. Frieda’s Dried Blackeyed Peas, cooked according to package directions and drained)
1-2 Frieda’s Dried Habanero Chiles, rehydrated, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Frieda’s Bay Leaf
1 cup niblet corn – low sodium
Salt to taste
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Warm tortillas

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the steak in the oil on all sides. Remove form the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain the drippings. Heat 2 tablespoons oil. Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the oil for 3 minutes. Stir in the beef, undrained kidney beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, Blackeyed Peas, Habanero chiles, cilantro, basil, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat. Simmer, partially covered, for 35 to 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the corn and salt. Cook for 5 minutes longer. Discard the bay leaf. Ladle the chili into bowls. Top with shredded cheese. Serve with warm tortillas. Makes 8 servings.

So, Happy New Year and I wish you lots of prosperity and good health!


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