Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A New Year's Tradition: Black-Eyed Peas

OK...so we're barely through Christmas, but it IS already time to think about New Year's Eve and Day. For the next week, I'll be blogging ideas for an elegant and EASY New Year's Eve dinner. Sparkling wines you'll want to toast with. And maybe a resolution or two.

But, first let's start with the most important part. Here in the South it's a tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring good luck and good fortune in the year to come. Supposedly, you should eat at least 365 peas--one for each day of the year. I'll take any excuse to fix up a "mess of peas", so here's my recipe.

New Year's (or Anytime) Black-Eyed Peas
6-8 slices bacon
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cups black-eyed peas (If you've planned ahead, you will have some that you bought from the farmers' market this fall and stuck in the freezer. I actually prefer purple hull peas to black-eyes, so that's what I buy. I'm out of stock right now though, so will buy a couple of bags of frozen "field peas" from the grocery. By the time, I've "doctored" them up, they'll taste just like fresh. Just don't try and use canned. Please.)
Salt and pepper

Cut bacon in one-inch pieces. In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon for three or four minutes to render out some of the fat. (You can also substitute turkey bacon, but you'll need to add a tablespoon of oil as you cook. DON'T skip the bacon though; it adds a great flavor.) Add the onion and saute until onion is translucent. Pour in peas and stir to coat with bacon fat and incorporate onion.

Pour in enough water to cover. Simmer peas on low heat until tender, three or four hours. Stir gently periodically, being careful not to break up the peas. Add water as needed to keep peas covered. Season during last hour with salt and pepper.

Of course, you can bake up some corn bread and do the real Southern thing with some greens or cabbage on the side and you're SURE to ring in the New Year the old-fashioned way.

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