By Scott Leysath

I learned many years ago that the best way to put your new year on the right track is to start off with a serving of black-eyed peas. There are those who firmly believe that eating black-eyed peas before anything else ensures that you will have good luck for the rest of the year. Although I'm not sure this custom will improve your luck, the following recipe will certainly get your new year off to a good start with a robust winter meal.

The foundation of any rich stew is a good stock. There's just no comparison between a homemade stock and something made from a bouillon cube. As you work your way through the season's waterfowl harvest, save some of the carcasses and sinewy legs and thighs, which you can transform into an aromatic roasted duck stock that can be frozen in batches and used throughout the year.

Making stock is simple. Place several carcasses and legs into a roasting pan along with rough-chopped carrots, celery, and onions. No need to peel or remove the ends and skins of the vegetables. Roast in a 400deg;F oven until evenly browned. Transfer the contents of the pan to a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add a few bay leaves, fresh garlic, and perhaps several sprigs of rosemary. Heat until almost boiling, then simmer over low heat, uncovered, for several hours. Pour the liquid through a strainer, then through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or paper towels. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Savory Duck Stew with Black-Eyed Peas

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Bean Soaking Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves: 8-10


  • 3 cups duck breast (boneless, skinless, and diced into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 quarts duck stock (or substitute canned beef or chicken broth)
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced (canned or fresh)
  • Tabasco to taste
  • Fresh Italian parsley, minced


Step 1
Season the cubed duck breast with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Toss well and allow the duck to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the duck and brown evenly. Remove and reserve the browned duck.

Step 2
Combine the peas and duck stock in a large stockpot. Bring the contents to a boil and then turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour. Bring the pot to a boil again, then reduce the heat to simmer. Add the ham hock and salt. Cook until the peas are tender.

Step 3
Remove the hock, pick the meat off the bone, and return the meat to the pot. While the peas are simmering, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, carrots, and jalapeño pepper until soft. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and continue to cook them for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the vegetables, diced tomatoes, and reserved duck to the stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Top with minced parsley.