¼ pound thick-cut or slab bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium-large onion, chopped (1½ cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup crushed Italian tomatoes or tomato sauce
1½ cups long-grain rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pick over black-eyed peas and put in a 4- to 6-quart pot. Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches, bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside to soak for 1½ hours. Drain and rinse peas.
In a large stockpot, fry bacon to lightly brown and render fat. Add onions and sauté about 3 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf, and red pepper.
Stir in broth and drained peas. Cook over medium heat, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes until peas are just tender. Mix in tomatoes, rice, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat and set aside to finish steaming. Discard bay leaf and adjust seasoning to taste.