Rinse dried peas thoroughly, sorting any tiny pebbles or other debris.
In a large stockpot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil with black-eyed peas, ham hocks, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours, or until peas and ham hocks are tender. If ham hocks require further cooking, simmer in water in a separate pot until meat is easily pulled from the bone.
Cool ham hocks and remove all meat from the bone. Stir ham into the peas, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, and serve.
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