Notes from the Test Kitchen:
Black-eyed peas are delicious. But add bacon to them... and you have a winner. Everything is seasoned just right in this recipe. Can't wait to start my new year with this yummy meal.
(1- to 1 1/2-pound) boneless ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot and brown ham chunks (if desired), about 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer to plate with bacon.
Add onion and celery to pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, peas, bay leaves, and browned ham and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until beans are just tender, about 20 minutes.
Place rice in fine-mesh strainer set over a large bow. Rinse under running water until water runs clear, about 1 minute. Drain rice well and stir into pot. Place square of aluminum foil directly on surface of simmering liquid. Simmer covered until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes, stirring and repositioning foil twice during cooking. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with fork. Stir in scallions and bacon. Serve.