When you don't have a decent garden of your own, it's a blessing to have friends that do. Our next door neighbors left a bushel of fresh picked, summer vegetables on our doorstep the other day. I can't tell you how blessed I felt when I saw that basket. God is good that's all I'm saying.
After I stopped taking pictures of the basket (like any fanatical food blogger trying to catch the natural moment), I went to digging around and found red tomatoes, yellow-pear tomatoes, okra, and a mess of purple hull peas (my favorite!). I called the kids in and we went to work shelling those beautiful peas.
Now, I could have been a dog of old habits and cooked these peas the way I've always known; slowly simmering for 1 hour on the stove. However, times have changed and I'm a busy woman with too much on my platter. (I outgrew the "plate" years ago after the kids came along.) I got out my trusty pressure cooker and the owner's manual to see what kinda of magic tricks I could do.
Well, it turns out that my manual didn't list how long to cook FRESH shelled purple hull peas in the pressure cooker, only dried black eye peas. I had to take a guess between the minutes for the fresh lima beans and dried black eye peas. I successfully guessed 4 minutes. That's right, F-O-U-R, 4-minutes.
After four short minutes of listening to the the pressure regulator chatter along, then allowing the cooker to cool down on its own accord, those purple hull peas came out dark, tender and with the perfect thickness of pea gravy. Y'all know what I'm talking about when I say pea gravy. That thick bean juice that can only be eaten by sopping it up with a slice of bread or a buttermilk biscuit. Man, now I'm hungry all over again. Let's cook!
I kept the measurements of this recipe loose, because we don't always know how many peas we'll actually end up with after we've shelled a bagful or basketful. Pressure cookers always say NOT to fill the pot more than 2/3 full. And no matter how many fresh peas you put in, you still only need somewhere between 1-cup to 1 1/2 cups water to cook them tender. A little extra water just makes more pea gravy for sopping.
HERE'S ALL IT TAKES
- 1 to 3 pounds fresh shelled purple hull peas
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon onion powder for each pound of peas
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder for each pound of peas
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt for each pound of peas
- Fresh ground pepper to you liking
Put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker, making sure not to fill the pot more than 2/3 full. Lock on the lid, put on the pressure regulator and put over medium high heat. When the pressure regulator begins to chatter (a gentle rocking motion), reduce the heat to medium-low. Set the timer for 4-minutes.
The air vent/cover lock may move up and down a few times when cooking first begins. Steam will be noticeable. This is normal. Air is being vented out of the cooker. Once the cooker is sealed, the air vent will rise up and remain in the up position until the pressure is released. The overpressure plug will rice slightly and seal as well.
After the four minutes are up, carefully remove the cooker from the heat and allow to cool at its own accord. That usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. After the air vent/cover lock drops down and only then, can you remove the pressure regulator and unlock the lid to remove the lid.
NEVER EVER, NEVER, remove the pressure regulator while the air vent/cover lock is in the up position and you have just remove the cooker from the heat. BIG MESSY NO-NO!
QUICK COOL DOWN METHOD
A quick way to get the cooker cooled down is to carefully move the pot to the sink and run cool water over the lid. Again, DO NOT REMOVE THE PRESSURE REGULATOR until after the air vent/cover lock drops down. You'll hear the last bit of steam escape through the air vent then it will drop. If it doesn't drop that means there's still pressure in the cooker. Continue to cool until the air vent drops.
I've learned that the quick cool down method doesn't make the same gravy as when the cooker is allowed to cool down on its own. So, I tend to do something else while the pot cools, like make a pan of cornbread or buttermilk biscuits.