• 1/2 pound dried Sea Island red peas, or black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, or home-preserved tomatoes
  • 1/4-pound hunk smoky bacon, skin removed
  • 3 tablespoons your favorite BBQ rub
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Cornbread, crumbled, for serving


  1. Drain the peas, and then add to a pressure cooker. Pour in the tomatoes; you’re looking for a 2:1 liquid-to-pea ratio. Crush the tomatoes with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon. Add the bacon, rub, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir, and then secure the lid. Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions for medium pressure (8.5 to 9 psi), about 20 minutes.
  2. Release all of the pressure according to the pressure cooker instructions. Carefully remove the lid. If the bacon hasn’t fallen apart into shreds, cut into pieces and stir back into the peas. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Ladle the peas into bowls and serve with crumbled cornbread on top.

NOTE: Each variety of dried peas cooks differently. If you are unable to find the red peas, the black-eyed peas make a fine substitute and may need to cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, but they may not turn out as creamy.