Start by getting all your ingredients ready (mise en place). This is the ways the pros do it and it makes the entire job much easier. This means chopping and dicing your vegetables, rinsing the black-eyed peas and making sure there are no little stones in them.
Heat up a large soup pot or one of those nice cast iron casserole pots if you have one on medium high heat.
Add the oil and wait until it gets hot enough to shimmer but not smoke.
Add the sausages and cook until they are brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pot and transfer to a large plate or bowl.
Brown the onion, bell pepper, fennel and garlic in the same pot. There should be enough oil and fat from the sausage to cook them nicely. Be sure to move the vegetables around so they don't burn. This should take 5 to 8 minutes depending on your stove top and pot.
Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook down for about 5 minutes.
Add the washed black-eyed peas, chicken stock and water. Bring this to a boil, cover partially and reduce heat and simmer until the black-eyed peas begin to get tender. This can take 1¼ hours to 1½ hours.
Slice the reserved sausage on the diagonal into ½ inch slices and add them to the pot. Be sure to add the accumulated juices from the sausages you find on the plate. It adds lots of additional flavor.
Taste the stew and add the salt and pepper to taste.
Chop and add about ¼ cup of the fresh cilantro to the pot and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Stew is ready.