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Recipe

Buttery Black-Eyed Pea Stew with Fried Corn Cakes

Eric Medsker

Servings: 8

A creamy, vegetable-rich stew with a crunchy corn cake—what could be a better match? We call these sorts of dishes complicated simplicity. They’re also the essence of what we believe dinner-party main-course fare should be, the flavors thickly layered but softened a bit and very smooth. The cakes are pretty easy to prepare–and the black-eyed peas, garlic, and other ingredients in the stew just need time over the heat to meld properly. Consider this one our take on new Southern cuisine. It feels as if you spent all day preparing it. You didn’t. You needn’t tell.

Ingredients

For the corn cakes

  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup canned chopped mild green chiles
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled a few minutes
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Corn oil, for frying

For the stew

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. dried sage (do not use rubbed sage)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Up to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 5 cups black-eyed peas, thawed frozen or rinsed canned
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the garnish

  • Parsley leaves, minced

Preparation

Make the corn cakes

  • Stir the corn, cream, chiles, butter, and eggs in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in the cornmeal and flour to make a soft but rich batter, like a thick pancake batter.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat the skillet lightly with oil. Scoop up a scant 1/4 cup of the batter and drop it into the skillet. Add a few more, spacing them apart, then use the back of a metal spatula or pancake turner to flatten them to 3-1/2-inch rounds. Cook, turning once, until browned and set, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and continue making more cakes until you have 16 in all, adding a little oil before each batch and never crowding the skillet.

Make the stew

  • Melt the butter in a large, high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, stir the flour, sage, thyme, paprika, salt, celery seeds, nutmeg, and cayenne in a small bowl.
  • Whisk the spiced flour mixture into the onion mixture and cook for 30 seconds, whisking all the while. Whisk in the broth until the flour dissolves, bring to a simmer, and continue whisking until thickened and bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the black-eyed peas and cream and bring back to a simmer, stirring often. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer to meld the flavors, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • To serve, ladle the stew into shallow soup bowls and top each with two corn cakes.
  • Sprinkle minced parsley leaves over the servings.

Make Ahead Tips

Fry the corn cakes up to 2 hours in advance. Store on the wire rack. Warm on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes.

Make the stew up to 2 hours in advance. Store, covered, at room temperature in its pan. Reheat over low heat until bubbling, stirring often, before serving.

Note: There’s no salt in the corn cake recipe because canned chopped chiles are well stocked with sodium.

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