Serve these black-eyed peas with collard greens and cornbread for a Southern New Year's feast. All 3 dishes symbolize good fortune; they're also just plain delicious. If you can't find a ham hock, substitute a smoked turkey leg or wing. Add cooked peas to stews or salsa, or sauté with rice, garlic, and bell pepper for hoppin' John. Use leftover ham hock meat as a flavoring agent for greens, beans, and broths.
Rinse peas; drain. Place peas in a large bowl; fill with water to cover peas. Let stand at room temperature 8 hours or overnight. Drain.
Place peas and next 6 ingredients (through ham hock) in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until peas are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat. Remove hock; cool slightly. Remove meat from bone; discard fat, skin, and bone. Chop meat. Reserve 3 cups pea mixture for Seared Grouper with Black-Eyed Pea Relish* and Black-Eyed Pea-Stuffed Acorn Squash**. Add 1/2 cup meat to remaining 3 cups pea mixture (reserve remaining meat for another use). Top with green onions and hot sauce, if desired.