As each year passes, I am beginning to realize the importance of maintaining traditions. I am not sure many folks would ever slow down their incessantly busy schedules if it weren’t for the traditions in their lives. One Southern tradition that brings me many fond memories are those spent with family at the arrival of the new year.
I am the kind of person that loves when things are laid out for me. On New Year’s Day, unlike other holidays, I KNOW WHAT I AM COOKING and WHAT I WILL BE DOING – cooking, playing games,
throwing the football in the yard, hula hooping in the house (it really is a lot of fun),
There is no guess-work. We will always be eating Hoppin’ John cooked with pork (black-eyed peas represent prosperity – pork represents forward progress), collards (a symbol of the color of money),
and cornbread which are sooooo simple to prepare.
One other reason that just love celebration our New Year’s tradition is that I get to go straight out to the garden and pull up the fresh collards to be cooked that day as well as the onions,
and I get to use the dried beans that I stored from our summer harvest.
The food just seems to taste extra good knowing that you planted and harvested the food that your family is enjoying. They love it that much more too!
You can find my tradition growing up in the South and a recipe for Hoppin’ John New Year’s Salad on Cooking Network TV Blog.
Happy New Year’s and Happy Cooking!
HOPPIN’ JOHN – Black Eyed Peas Southern Style
- 1/2 pound bacon (cut into small pieces) or ham hock and 2 teaspoons bacon drippings
- 1 Vidalia onion, chopped
- 5 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups (16 oz) heirloom fresh black-eyed peas
- 4 cups water or chicken stock, add more water if needed
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups steamed white rice ( I prefer short grained rice for this recipe though the original recipe used long grain)
- scallions, for garnish
- Soak black-eyed peas in cold water for 24 to 36 hours. Occasionally remove the scum that rises to the top of the water. Rinse halfway through the 24 hours, add more water to the pot and repeat. Drain peas. I If you don’t have time to soak your peas, place peas in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat once it reaches a boil and let the peas stand for 1 hour. Drain and use in recipe).
- If you are using bacon, place bacon in a large pot over medium heat until bacon is crisp. If you are using a ham hock, heat bacon drippings until hot. Remove all but about 3 Tablespoons of bacon drippings, but leave the bacon in the pan. Add celery and 1 cup of the onions to the pot and sauté until soft (about 4 minutes). Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
- Place black-eyed peas, chicken stock, cayenne, salt, and pepper into the pot. If you are using a ham hock, place it in the pot with the vegetables. Bring to a boil, and then lower to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until peas are creamy and tender. Stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water.
- Meanwhile cook the rice.
- Once peas are done, remove ham hock and pull any meat off the bone and place the meat back into the collards. Adjust seasonings and top with scallions. Serve over rice.