Happy New Year in the American South

My parents were both born in the Midwest, but my father was a Southerner by heritage, and he grew up keeping to the traditions of the American South.

Like having black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, preferably to break the fast. Black-eyed peas, hog jowl (fried up or to season the peas), and spinach … each symbolic of luck and wealth. (Some people serve cornbread, the color of and representative of gold.)

And so I carry on the tradition.

If you think you don’t like black-eyed peas—and I hear this a lot—it may be because you’ve only had dried peas boiled in Hoppin’ John. Or canned peas, which is worse. (Don’t get me wrong: I like Hoppin’ John. It’s just a completely different taste and texture.)

But this is 2015, kids! And I have a better recipe—made with fresh or frozen peas. They don’t get mushy (as you can see below) and the bay leaf and onion give them a sweet cast. Seriously, try it! The whole dish is done in less than 45 minutes and it tastes great. Great for vegetarians too.

Twenty-First Century Black-Eyed Peas

2 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion
1 bay leaf
1 lb. fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
4 c. vegetable stock (add more if needed)
1/4 t. each salt and paper

Pour oil into large skillet and sauté garlic, onions, and bay leaf over medium-high heat until tender and fragrant. Add peas and vegetable stock. Simmer until the peas are tender—about a half hour. Add salt and pepper, and serve warm.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, a dollop of sour cream, or chop up and fry a bit of pancetta to sprinkle on top.

Black-eyed peas, 1 January 2015.

Black-eyed peas, 1 January 2015.

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2 thoughts on “Happy New Year in the American South

  1. I have Southern heritage as well, but never the New Year’s tradition of Hoppin’ John. This sounds tasty, and shouldn’t require just one day each year to enjoy. I don’t mind “improvements” on tradition!

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