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Getting ready for some New Year’s eve cooking. I want a hearty black eyed peas casserole, which I’ll be throwing into the crockpot tonight with a couple smoked ham hocks (a first try for me). I want the casserole to be fairly meaty, for which I got some smoked ham to throw in dices. I plan to get the meat from the hocks after and mix that in as well.

I intend to cook the dish overnight and keep it warm to serve in the early evening. Would throwing the diced ham into the mix from the beginning ruin that component’s texture, or can it benefit the casserole as a whole? Would I be better off cooking the BEPs with the hocks and adding the diced ham in the morning to sit with the casserole on warm for 10 hours?

Many thanks for the pointers!

  • This is venturing fairly close to a recipe request, which is off topic for Seasoned Advice. So, I'm going to recommend closing. (If it were me, I'd throw the diced ham in the next day, close to serving time). – moscafj Dec 30 '17 at 20:55
  • I wouldn't keep it warm for an entire day unless under vacuum: better to let it cool down and heat up again in the evening because most bacteria thrive in a nicely warm and moist environment and if you leave the temperature too high for an entire day; you'll have soup instead of a casserole... – Fabby Dec 31 '17 at 10:56
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Diced ham is a great addition to any dried beans, peas, or lentils, especially for those of us who like a lot of meat in them. I would encourage you to add the diced ham later in the cooking process rather than at the beginning.

You should get plenty of seasoning from the ham hocks. And while the ham can add additional flavor, you run the risk of "washing out" the taste of the ham. (I learned this the hard way may years ago.) Long cooking doesn't hurt the texture of the ham so much, but it does seriously hurt the flavor.

Plus, it is possible to over-season or get too much salt in your dish. You don't want to do that either.

Ideally, the ham only needs to be added for enough time to heat it thoroughly and incorporate it into your dish. Your 10 hour idea may work fine, but I would think 4 to 6 hours would be sufficient. Again, you want to avoid losing flavor in the ham.

As a side note, slow cookers vary widely as temperatures go. Be sure to check the temperature of your dish on warm to ensure that it is not in the danger zone for many hours.

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