Good morning, friends! I hope this post finds you rested, relaxed and recuperated after a long holiday season. With just one more “event” to go before a return to normal life, I’d like to share a couple of my favorite traditional New Year’s dishes.
Greens are a staple side-dish on our table year ’round, as they’re low carb, high in fiber, full of vitamins and utterly delish! On New Year’s, however, they take center stage, along with a big dish of limas or a piquant salad of marinated black-eyed peas. Beyond being amazingly delicious, a meal of pork, greens and peas is supposed to bring you luck for the following year. I can’t vouch for the verity of that tradition, but I don’t mind giving it a try each year!
While the cooking time may vary, the procedure for making a steaming pot of greens is about the same, no matter the variety you choose.
- First, buy more than you think you’ll need. What may seem like an extraordinary amount of raw greens will cook down to fit in a small bowl.
- Greens need to be soaked in a deep sink full of cold water to allow the sand to rinse off. Most likely your greens were grown in sandy soil and if you don’t soak and rinse them really well, you’ll end up with grit in your teeth!
- Fold the leaf in half lengthwise and cut away the thick, coarse stem on the back of the leaves. You don’t have to do this, but I really dislike the fibrous bites of stem from tougher greens like collards.
- Allow plenty of cooking water/broth. Some greens can be quite bitter, so plenty of cooking water will let the bitterness cook out…and the resulting pot liquor is absolutely delicious!
Ingredients for Classic Southern Greens
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of (minced) garlic
4 cups chicken broth (add additional as needed)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large turkey leg or ham hock
2# collards, mustard, turnip greens or kale, well-cleaned and chopped
salt & pepper
vinegar or hot sauce, to taste
In a large pot, cook onions in the olive oil till tender. Stir in garlic and cook till fragrant. Add chicken broth, smoked meat and pepper flakes, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the turkey leg or ham hock, allow to cool then pick the meat off the bone and return to the pot of broth. Add the greens to the pot a handful at a time so they can wilt down in the hot broth. When all the greens are wilted, cover and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes for kale or mustard, an hour for collards, or till they reach the desired texture. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with vinegar or hot sauce. For my vegan and vegetarian friends out there, simply omit the chicken broth and turkey/ham and replace with vegetable broth and a bit of adobo sauce for that wonderful smoky flavor.
Okay, moving on to my favorite black-eyed pea recipe…black-eyed pea salad! I know it sounds strange, but I’ve never developed a taste for a big old pot-full of black-eyed peas. Any other pot of beans or peas, yes, but black-eyed peas, no. I was introduced to this dish at a friend’s restaurant in Beaufort, SC and was instantly hooked! It’s spicy, savory, filling and makes a great main dish during crazy hot weather. It’s also a perfect spin on the dish that’s traditionally served for “good luck” on New Year’s Day. Here’s all you need…
Ingredients for Black-Eyed Pea Salad
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2-15oz cans of black eyed peas
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
Combine the tomato, onions, peppers and peas in a largish container with a tight-fitting lid. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil and Dijon mustard. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the chopped veggies and peas and combine gently. Cover tightly and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight, then salt and pepper to taste. *I personally double the marinade because I love it so much! But that’s just me.
Alongside your beans and peas, serve a thick slab of buttery cornbread (not the sweet stuff!) and finish the meal with a slice of lemony pound cake or traditional banana pudding. That’s good eats, I don’t care who you are!
Till next time, best wishes for a prosperous New Year from my family to yours.