Friday, January 1, 2016
BLACK-EYED PEAS AND COLLARD GREENS
A NEW YEAR’S DINING TRADITION
Miss Carrie’s Recipe
By Doc Lawrence
ATLANTA-Every Southerner must eat certain things on New Year’s Day: Black-eyed peas and greens (collards preferred) seasoned with hog jowl. Black-eyed peas will bring luck in the coming year. Many traditions maintain that you must eat at least 365 of them. I was told during my baby days in Atlanta that the more you ate, the more luck that would come your way.
I never questioned this wisdom and cannot think of a New Year’s dinner that did not feature these staples.
Since the days of Jefferson and his revolutionary gardens at Monticello, these vegetables have been centerpieces of Southern cooking heritage
The Civil War probably fueled the tradition during the suffering inflicted by Sherman’s March to the Sea, an event that began in 1864 about two blocks from my home in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Union troops moved unimpeded on their way to Savannah, confiscating pantries, smokehouses, crops, livestock, mules and more. Civilians were left with nothing except peas and greens which Union soldiers believed useful only for feeding horses and hogs. Now cherished and appreciated on the first day of the year, these dishes saved the population from starvation. Thus, the tradition continues.
Here’s a simple recipe based on what I recall from my mother, an Alabama native who was an amazing self-taught cook.
MS. CARRIE’S ALABAMA BLACK-EYED PEAS
1-pound package of dried Black-eyed Peas
Pork for seasoning: ham hocks, ham bone, or large piece of smoked ham
1 Tbs salt (will need more)
1 Tbs pepper
1 Tbs lard
1 Tbs Brown Sugar
Sort through beans and remove any stones. Place beans in a large mixing bowl or pot. Completely cover with water (with a few inches extra over the top) and soak overnight. Pour off water and place in pot. Add cured pork for seasoning. Cover with water plus several more inches. Add other seasonings. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for several hours. Remove cured pork, shred and place back in pot. Continue cooking until peas are tender. Total cooking time will take at least three to four hours.
Lagniappe: Serve with rice for Hoppin’ John.
When you begin to feel the luck, go out and purchase a Power Ball lottery ticket.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!