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I’m not sure how the black eyed peas and greens tradition started but I do know it’s quintessentially Southern. Usually in other parts of the country a pork roast was made because the pig was considered fat and the pork roast was supposed to bring wealth because of the fattiness. Maybe the peas and greens tradition started as the poor Southern way of eating that pork roast on New Years. Greens and beans are traditionally cooked with ham hocks, or other smoked ham parts.
The black eyed peas are supposed to bring you luck, you should eat one pea for every day of the new year. And the greens are to resemble wealth. Most importantly for the dish, and the superstition, is the cornbread, which resembles gold. When it is cleaning out the bottom of your bowl from the delicious peas and greens it tastes like gold too.
As with many traditional Southern foods I’ve created a delicious tasting dish that is ready in under an hour. Hours stewing greens always intimidates me, I’m not sure why, I guess because these greens taste perfect and they require very little time. So I must have done something wrong right? Wrong, give them a try. You’ll be happy you did. The peas get a smoky flavor from smoked paprika, and I cook them in 1 tbsp of pork fat, but if you don’t have the pork fat, olive oil is just fine.
My very favorite cornbread is a Frank Stitt’s recipe from his cookbook Southern Table, you can find the recipe on Genius Kitchen just use the link, but I highly recommend his cookbook, there are lots of favorite Southern recipes in there. His cornbread is deliciously savory and crumbly with hard and crunchy crusts. Perfect for sopping up any liquid left in your New Year’s Bowl.
- 6 slices bacon, I prefer maple bacon, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bunches of collard greens, washed, dried, ribs removed and sliced into ribbons
- 2 C chicken stock
- 2 C water
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp pork fat (or olive oil will work fine)
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans black eyed peas with their liquid
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- Heat a dutch oven or large pot with a lid over medium heat.
- Add in the bacon and let it cook until just beginning to brown.
- Add in the onion and cook until translucent.
- Add in the garlic and cook for thirty seconds until it's fragrant. Add in the chicken stock and water along with the red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Toss in the collards and stir. Once the collards begin to wilt and shrink down turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and allow them to cook for 40 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
- In a large saucepan, melt the pork fat or heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once heated add the onion to the pan. Once the onion is translucent, add in the garlic and cook for thirty seconds.
- Add in the Black Eyed Peas with their liquid, then fill one empty can with water and add it to the pan. Toss in a bay leaf and the smoked paprika.
- Bring to a boil, then turn this down to a simmer over medium low heat, let it simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes is over add in the salt (adding in the salt after it's done cooking allows the beans to hold their shape and not get mushy). Fish out the bay leaf and use a slotted spoon to serve the peas on top of the greens in a bowl. Serve with cornbread.