The New Year is upon us and for me that means having black-eyed peas and greens on the menu in various forms. As a reader you may know that my background is of Southern heritage. All though I no longer live below the Mason-Dixon Line, I still take part in many of the wonderful foods and traditions. If you are not familiar with the eating of peas and greens at the start of the New Year, the peas, once swollen in size, represent prosperity and the greens represent good fortune.
The dried black-eyed peas can be soaked overnight or quick soaked if you are pressed for time. Once soaked, I cook the beans with a few veggies like garlic, onion, celery, and carrots, a ham hock for good flavor, and the collard greens. Unlike the original recipe that adds the greens at the end of the cooking time, I like to cook the greens for a longer period of time with the beans to remove the bitter flavor and for a tender bite. Opposite goes for adding the diced ham. I use the ham hock to flavor the broth and then add the ham right before serving along with any meat from the hock. That way the ham stays moist and tender, but the soup still has that deep ham flavor.
This is a great recipe for those of you who enjoy your black-eyed peas and greens, but without all the work of a full menu of Hoppin' John, Southern Cooked Greens, and Glazed Ham (that comes Sunday).
Although we are ending the year in Chicago without any accumulated snow (is that possible?!), the air is chilly and a body-warming bowl of goodness with a dash or two or three of hot sauce is still a welcome thought. And what could be better than ending the year with a bowl full of prosperity and good fortune? The great taste is just a bonus!