Grub Americana

The Painter’s Black-Eyed Pea Cakes

Black eyed pea cakes

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes are the perfect way to enjoy these Southern legumes. have them too. While they take a little time to make, they are well worth the effort. Tons of great flavor, especially when eaten with our traditional Comeback Sauce. (Recipe below)

Recipe makes about 12 cakes.

Whatcha Need:

  • 1 slice bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, plus 2 cloves, minced
  • 1 pound fresh black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups panko or fresh French bread crumbs
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Comeback Sauce (recipe below)

Whatcha Do:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Add the whole garlic cloves; cook 1 minute more. Add peas and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain peas; discard garlic. Transfer half the peas to a large bowl, and mash them (with a potato masher or the back of a spoon) into a chunky puree.

  2. Add the remaining peas, minced garlic, onion, peppers, parsley, basil, cayenne, salt and cream. Mix well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

  3. With damp hands, form the mixture into 12 patties, about 3/4-inch thick. Set aside.

  4. Set up an assembly line to prep the pea cakes. Put the flour into a shallow dish. Then, grab a small bowl for the egg and buttermilk, and beat with a fork to combine. Next, put the bread crumbs into a shallow dish. Coat each cake with flour, then dip into the egg mixture, and pat the cake in bread crumbs. Coat all the cakes, and set them aside.

  5. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

  6. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Working in batches, fry the cakes for 3 minutes on each side or until toasty brown. Place them on the rack to drain and cool. (If your oil gets dark, pour it out, wipe your skillet with a paper towel, and add fresh butter and oil for the remaining cakes.

  7. Serve the cakes with Comeback Sauce, greens and sliced tomatoes.

Comeback Sauce

Recipe makes 1 pint

Whatcha Need:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup salad oil
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Whatcha Do:

In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients. Process until smooth. Refrigerate for up to one week.


  • Adapted from Martha Hall Foose's Screen Doors and Sweet Tea.