The holidays always find me craving traditional Cajun dishes, and spending five days in Louisiana last week didn’t disappoint. Just off the top of my head, we had gumbo, boudin, jambalaya, red beans & rice, venison sausage, and more forms of pork than I could ever remember.
But on New Year’s Day, Cajun and Southern traditions merge into a meal of black eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread. The peas ensure good luck in the new year, the greens bring money, and the cornbread — well, as Chris Rock says, “Ain’t nothing wrong with that.” While I haven’t gotten rich yet, neither have I had to declare bankruptcy, so I won’t go screwing around with a good thing.
I’m happy to report Gil not only survived his first encounter with greens, but went back for a huge second helping! Not bad, considering I winged it, but it’s hard to go wrong when you start with a base of smoked ham hock and beef stock. Paul Prudhomme’s family cookbook provided the starting point for the black eyed peas, which are so tasty, I’m not sure why we don’t have them more often.
So with our good fortune and financial well-being assured for another 12 months, we’re ready to face 2007. Have a great one, everybody.
Recipes after the jump.
The Prudhomme Family’s black eyed peas
1 lb. dried black eyed peas, rinsed
2 quarts plus 1 1/2 cups chicken or pork stock
1/2 lb. slab bacon, diced
1/4 lb. tasso (or 2 smoked ham hocks)
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
black and cayenne pepper to taste
Put all ingredients except salt and pepper into a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, place lid on pot and continue boiling, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Lower heat and simmer with lid askew for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and more often toward end of cooking time to keep beans from sticking.*
Add salt and pepper and continue simmering beans for another 30 minutes with lid askew, stirring often. Remove lid and cook for 10 minutes, or until beans are creamy.
* If beans do stick, don’t stir them. Just transfer them to another pot to continue cooking, leaving the burnt bits in the old pot.
1 bunch collard greens
1 smoked ham hock
beef or chicken stock, or good-quality bouillon
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
red pepper flakes
Fill large pot halfway with water and stock (proportion is up to you) and bring to boil. Add ham hock and boil while you’re prepping the greens and onions.
Cut away thick stems of greens, chop leaves coarsely, and rinse, rinse, rinse. They can get pretty dirty. Add to pot with onion, vinegar, salt and pepper. Boil for at least 30 minutes, or until leaves are tender.
Use slotted spoon to serve greens, and dress with a little salt and vinegar.
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
Open box. Follow directions.