For as long as I can remember, I have been eating black-eyed peas, collard greens and pork on New Year’s Day. Every New Year’s Day we would go to my grandmother’s house. Honestly, we went to my grandmother’s every holiday. My grandmother always made black eyed peas, collard greens and pork in some form of fashion for New Year’s lunch. When you grow up in the South that is just what you did. Once I married, and after my grandmother passed away, I carried on this Southern tradition. Although my husband and my girls (when they were little), did not like black eye peas, they always ate at least one pea just to make me happy.
According to Southern traditions, you will have good luck for the entire year if you have the traditional New Year’s Day supper of black-eyed peas, greens and pork. The reasoning or history behind the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas is thought to bring prosperity in the new year. The peas are typically cooked with a pork product such as bacon, fatback or ham bones for flavoring. The traditional meal also includes cabbage, collard greens or mustard greens. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread, which represents gold, also often accompanies this meal. I always serve white rice with our peas. Mainly because my grandmother served rice with almost every meal.
Growing up in the South, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s is just something we always did and never questioned. I honestly don’t know if this tradition has ever bought me prosperity into the new year. But I can tell you that after the year we experienced in 2020, I am willing to try every tradition, folklore or not, in hopes of having a better year than last.
Happy New Year!
The Southern New Year’s Eve Tradition-Black-eyed Peas and Collard GreensCourse: SidesCuisine: SouthernDifficulty: Easy
This blacked eyed peas and collard green recipe is a Southern traditional dish served on New Year’s Day to bring good luck throughout the year!
2 pounds black-eyed peas, soaked overnight if possible
2 pounds smoked ham hock or meaty ham bone
4 pieces of slab bacon, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
½ teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
4 cups of chicken stock
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds collard greens, cut in 1-inch ribbons (about 8 cups)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Rinse dry black-eyed pea beans and pick through and discard any foreign objects. Add beans to a large pot covering with 3-4 inches of cold water. Cover and let sit overnight.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a small plate lined with paper towels, leaving the fat behind in the pan.
- Add the onions to the bacon fat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 2 minutes
- Drain the peas and add them to the Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add ham hock or ham bone, cover with 6 cups water and 4 cups chicken stock (if you prefer 10 cups of water but I like the flavor from the stock) and turn heat to high. Add salt, garlic powder, black pepper and allspice.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until peas are tender. Throughout cooking, add water as necessary, always keeping liquid level 1 inch above surface, stirring with wooden spoon occasionally. Turn off heat. Check broth for salt and adjust seasoning. Mixture should be fairly brothy. With a pair of tongs, remove ham hock or ham bone. Chop meat and skin in rough pieces and place back into pot leaving at least 1/2 cup to add to collard greens.
- Put a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and heat until wavy. Add garlic and red pepper and let sizzle without browning. Add collard greens and stir to coat. Season with salt and add 1 cup water or chicken stock, stirring to help wilt greens. Add chopped ham and reduce heat to medium, then cover with lid slightly ajar and cook until greens are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, put greens in low soup bowls, then ladle over hot black-eyed peas.