As your F&B operation prepares for a New Year’s Eve gathering to ring in the new, we look to our popular culinary heritage to gladden the festive atmosphere and enrich the celebration at our table.
Tradition holds that a meal of black-eyed peas shared on New Year’s Day will bring luck and good fortune in the coming year. A custom with ancient Middle Eastern origins, the practice became associated with Southern food culture in post-civil war America. According to common folklore, the humble peas (sometimes called cowpeas) represent growing fortune because as the dried legume cooks it expands greatly in volume--symbolizing expanded wealth.
When combined with braised greens and some soft cornbread --- ”peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold” --- as the old Southern saying goes, these comprise a complete nutritious meal from modest, simple ingredients.
The addition of a rosy braised pork roast elevates the optimism for the coming year, as the inclusion of this protein represents the forward facing direction pigs utilize when foraging, symbolizing forward motion and progress.
There are as many variations in the preparation of this little dish of optimism and hopefulness as there are those who believe in the holiday tradition. The following is only one.
A very hearty substantial meal, this can be presented as an appetizer, leaving plenty of opportunity for revelers to enjoy other New Year’s celebratory traditions: champagne, oysters, and a full chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight.
New Year's Black Eyed Peas
yield: 12 servings as an appetizer, or 6 servings as a main course
-- 4 cups dried black eyed peas rinsed and soaked for one hour
-- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-- 2 cups diced onion
-- 2 cups diced celery
-- 2 cups diced carrot
-- ¼ cup chopped garlic
-- 4 cups de-stemmed collard greens, roughly chopped
-- 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
-- 3 cups diced salt pork –or- 4 cups roasted cauliflower as a vegetarian option
-- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a large heavy bottomed stockpot, sautée onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in the vegetable oil until softened, about 15 minutes.
2. Add collards, peas, and stock, and simmer for 1 hour or more depending on desired tenderness.
3. Gently stir in pork or cauliflower, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve peas with hot sauce and butter-slathered cornbread straight from the skillet.