Why exactly do we eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day? It is thought to represent prosperity coming in the new year since they swell when cooked. I’ll take that!
I haven’t actively observed this tradition in the past, but this year I decided to make Laura Bush’s recipe for New Year’s Day Black-Eyed Peas. This recipe being as simple and as versatile as it is, it was freeing to be able to make some changes or additions to our taste. I didn’t have vegetable stock, but chicken broth substituted just fine. I felt like too much liquid was requested, so I merely left it to openly simmer for as long as it took for me to achieve the moisture level desired. This also helped to concentrate those flavors from the broth and vegetables without adding more salt. One thing that stood out to me was that this recipe didn’t list the traditional hamhock, but it was delicious regardless.
You can’t really eat Southern food without some cornbread. Baking being more of a science than cooking, there were so many reasons I was wary about this Good Housekeeping recipe. I didn’t cool the melted butter enough prior to blending. The batter seemed too dry. I wanted to use my freshly reseasoned cast-iron… However, there were things that excited me. The recipe asked me to crisco my pan prior to filling. The batter evoked a rusticity unlike wetter, smoother batters. The final result was a familiar sunny, golden color. If you don’t have at least one cast-iron skillet in your collection, you need one. They’re so functional! Both Amazon and World Market have great deals on Lodge (my preferred brand).
Since I had volunteered time the night before at the church youth group’s New Year’s Eve party, I didn’t have time to make the traditional greens this year, but between the two of us and a spontaneous invite to my mom and her husband as a way of saying thanks for helping transport my new kitchen rack home, the smoked chicken, black-eyed peas, and cornbread was plenty.
Baked brie and crackers made a good appetizer and my favorite peppermint ice cream from Braum’s brought a cool, crisp finish. It was even better the next day when all the flavors had a chance to marry overnight (I took leftovers with me when I went to babysit a friend’s kids). Do you make/eat black-eyed peas to welcome the new year?