Friday, January 1, 2010

(Somewhat) Traditional New Year's Day Meal

I know this may not be the most visually appealing of meals, but we all ate and ate...and ate...and would have eaten more if there'd been any gravy left.

In the south, it's
a tradition to eat beans and greens on New Year's Day. I think the most common combination is black-eyed peas and collard greens. They are thought to symbolize prosperity (the beans stand for coins and the greens symbolize bills).

In our house, I'm trying hard to make it a tradition to "use whatcha got", so I scoured my pantry and freezer and found pigeon peas instead of black-eyeds and a package of Swiss chard from our garden last summer.

I like to serve these lucky beans and greens with Ham Hock Gravy over Homemade Biscuits -- this year I made Sweet Potato Biscuits. I think my baking soda may be past its prime, because they didn't rise as much as last time I used this recipe. They tasted good anyway. I also cooked some green beans because I knew I'd be hard pressed to get Kat to take more than her required bite of the peas or chard.

Ham Hock Gravy

1 large (about 1/2 -3/4 lb.) smoked ham hock or equivalent package of sliced smoked pork shanks
1 qt. of water
salt and pepper to taste
approximately 4 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed into about 1/2 cup water

Place ham hock in water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for at least an hour.

Remove ham hock from broth. The meat will literally fall off the bone.

Remove any fat and bones, shred the pork and return it to the broth. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper as desired.

Bring broth and meat back to a gentle boil.

Stir in cornstarch and water mixture and stir until gravy thickens. (You may have to add additional cornstarch and water mixture.)

Serve over split, buttered biscuits.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons cold butter
1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed
approximately 1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using food processor or pastry blender, but cold butter into flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in sweet potato. Add milk and mix just until soft dough forms.

Roll dough on lightly floured surface about 1/2-inch thick and cut into rounds using biscuit or cookie cutter. Place on baking stone or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 18 minutes.

Makes about 1 dozen biscuits.

Swiss Chard (or other fresh or frozen greens)

1 "mess" of greens, enough to feed your family
small amount of oil or bacon drippings
1/2 to 1 cup water or the liquid from simmering the ham hock above
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil or drippings in a large pan. When hot, add greens, stirring and simmering until wilted.

Add liquid, reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until greens are tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pigeon Peas (or Black-Eyed Peas)

1 cup dried pigeon peas or black-eyed peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bacon drippings or oil
pepper to taste

Sort peas for any bad peas or small bits of dirt. Rinse thoroughly.

Place peas in medium pan with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Stir in salt and bacon drippings.

Bring peas to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours or until peas are tender, adding small amounts of water to the pan as needed.

Season with pepper and additional salt as desired.

Makes about 3 cups of cooked peas.


A.Marie said...

Oh my gosh...that looks so yummy!! You are such a clever cook; I like how you substitute what you "have on hand" for what the recipe says. My Dad grew up on beans and he loves them. Whenever I make it, I always have to make enough to send home a container for him and Mom. :)

Sounds like you had a very Delicious New Years!

Wanda said...

It looks great to me! And thanks for the recipes.
We had black-eyed peas today. You can see my handiwork with the cans - yes, I used canned - on my blog.
Speaking of "use what you've got" I joined a stockpile challange on The object is to use almost exclusively, for as long as you can, what is already in your pantry, freezer and fridge. I think I am good for the month of January! I can't wait to see if I really do make it that far.

slugmama said...

Well you got this southern gal's mouth a droolin' and wishin' for her momma's cooking!lol

I am so done with cooking here that I didn't make Anything for New Year's beyond what required me to open a bag or a box to heat and eat it.lolol

Love the make do with what's there thing. I've been trying to do that more and incorporate leftovers into subsequent dishes.

Happy New Year!!

Annie Jones said...

A.Marie: I've never met a bean I didn't like. :)

Wanda: I've used canned black-eyed peas before and they're pretty good. I like to make them from dried if I have time, but I don't always. I might have to check out that frugalvillage link. Thanks!

Slugmama: Thanks for visiting my blog! I popped over to yours for a minute, but I'll have to wait until I have more time to check it out better. :)