Black-eyed peas are a New Year’s Day “good luck” tradition. But for Mel LeMane, the Southern staple is something more. Black-eyed peas literally launched his family into the restaurant business, and they’re the most requested side dish at Po’ Melvin’s, which serves up Southern comfort fare from an unassuming strip mall space in Irving.
The story began in the early ‘80’s, when Mel’s dad, the original “Po Melvin,” entered his original black-eyed pea recipe in the State Fair of Texas Cooking Competition. To his surprise, they won “Best in Show.” Eventually, he would sell his black-eyed peas to State Fair attendees, first from a concession truck and then from a booth. Customers encouraged Melvin to open a restaurant, and the rest is history.
Today, the younger Mel continues to cook up the black eyed peas for patrons who demand them regularly, not just on January 1st. Po Melvin’s is located at 4070 N Belt Line in Irving.
1 lb. hickory smoked bacon, chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
6 small cans of fresh shelled black eyed peas
3 cubes of beef bouillon
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and salt to taste (optional)
Sauté the bacon until brown and crisp. Add the green onions and sauté.
Add the black eyed peas and 2 to 3 cans of water, along with bouillon cubes and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, enough to allow some of the water to evaporate.
Taste and add salt if desired, and/or a dash of Worcestershire sauce or Tabasco.