1 pound dried black-eye peas (Sharon uses 3 cans Glory Blackeye peas)
2 small smoked ham hocks or meaty ham bone (Make sure there is ham on bones)
2 medium onions, divided
3 large cloves garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 can (10 - 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with chile peppers, juices reserved
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, sliced
1 pound smoked sausage, cut in 1-inch chunks
In a large Dutch oven, combine the black-eye peas, ham bone, and 6 cups water. Cut one of the onions in half and add it to the pot along with the garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the beans are tender but not mushy, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. (This is if using dried peas.)
Remove the ham bone, cut off the meat; dice and set aside. Drain the peas and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf, onion pieces, and garlic.
Add 2-1/2 cups water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover and simmer until the rice is almost tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Mince the remaining onion and add to the rice along with the peas, tomatoes, and their juices, red and green bell pepper, celery, jalapeno pepper, Creole seasoning, thyme, cumin, and salt.
Cook until the rice is tender, 5-8 minutes. Stir in the sliced green onions and the reserved diced ham. Serve with hot sauce and freshly baked cornbread.