As a southerner I grew up eating a traditional meal on New Years Day. Some think of it as a way to forget about things that happened in the past year and start fresh for the new year. I never need an excuse to share a meal with friends but I think that this is an important one. I am not superstitious but who can argue eating a great meal that is supposed to bring you luck, money, health, and progress in the new year; at least make your stomach happy right?! Since my girlfriend and I were hit by a car on New Years Day we are both looking forward to a healthier 2010!
The traditional meal that I made consisted of pork chops, hoppin’ john, collard greens and cornbread.
Pork, thanks to its rich fat content, signifies wealth and prosperity. I grilled these on my cast-iron griddle after I coated them with my own dry rub mixture (REID’S RUB); I put the dry rub on the chops Wednesday so that the flavor would sink in a bit…
Hoppin’ John is a mixture of rice and black-eyed peas which brings you good luck in the new year. I meant to use dried peas that I got at the North Carolina Country Store but forgot to soak them so used canned ones instead… To season the peas I started by sauteing one sweet onion and three cloves of garlic in some olive oil. Once they caramelized, I added two cans of peas (which I rinsed – I always rinse canned peas/beans), one can of beer, about a tablespoon of molasses, half of mulato pepper, smoked ham ends and black pepper. All of those ingredients simmer for about 2 hours or so and just before serving I stir in diced red bell pepper; then I served them over the rice.
The collard greens symbolize money as the heavy leaves look like piles of cash. To cook these I heated a pan and added olive oil and some sliced garlic. I let the garlic cook until just starting to turn brown, then added the collards which I sliced into thin strips and added a half of a beer for liquid and put the top on the pot to let the greens steam. Some people let their greens cook forever but I cook mine about 40 minutes or so until the greens just get tender.
Cornbread is for gold as the color might tell you. I made a buttermilk cornbread which is about as simple as it gets; a mixture of coarse ground yellow grits, flour, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, buttermilk and a little bit of honey.
It was great to share this meal with good friends looking forward to a new year. I hope that all of you have a great new year no matter what you ate on the first day of 2010!