Whether it is superstition, arcane tradition, or just common sense cloaked in a bit of magic, most New Year’s foods offer good luck for the year ahead.
Cooked greens can resemble folding money; cornbread is gold; pork hearkens progress; and legumes and peas mimic coins. In Spain, revelers eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, each grape symbolizing a month of the coming year. Germans are known to tuck fish scales into their wallets.
In the American South, it’s traditional to eat cornbread, cabbage, and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
Generous and forgiving, this home-spun recipe is the one that they loosely follow. Adapt it as you need to and enjoy.
Here’s to hopping good luck in the New Year!
1 pound black eyed peas, soaked and drained before cooking
2 cups long grain rice (see note, below)
1 large onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper or 2 medium, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 ham hock, smoked or fresh (or other pork pieces like shoulder or neck)
Pork fat (bacon, salt pork, fat back, or lard)
A couple of pickled peppers and their brine
4-5 quarts of stock (or more if needed)
In a heavy Dutch oven, sweat the onions, bell peppers, and garlic in the pork fat of your choosing.
Add the soaked black eyed peas, ham hock, or other pork pieces, pickled peppers, and other seasonings.
Add the stock, bring to a boil then simmer until the black eyed peas are tender and the meat falls apart.
Note: The rice can be cooked separately or it can be added towards the end of the cooking process with more stock if needed.