Saturday, January 1, 2011

Encouraging fortune in the New Year with a bowl of Hoppin' John ...and reinforcing it with Skippin' Jenny

Thinking back to New Year's eve, what I remember as a kid is Dick Clark, the giant ball, and live music.  Well, live from the telley, at least.  We always cheered and toasted and enjoyed just being home to welcome in a new year.  We never went out to parties or even visited anybody, I don't think.  If memory serves and occasionally it does, I think I spent New Year's of my senior year at a friend's house.  And then there was college.  Well, now.  That is a whole 'nother story in itself.  But once that was out of my system, it was pretty much back to in-house celebrations for me.  Not always at my house, though until marriage and a slew okay, three of kids came along.  We pretty much just hang out at home and re-create the Dick Clark evenings of my past.  Only now I can drink as much as I choose.  Honestly though...I like it that!  I don't have to brave the crazies and drunk drivers. 

But anyway...my whole point of talking about New Year's of years past was to ponder the fact that we never had any New Year's food traditions growing up in my house.  So, I just went ahead and made some of my own.  I suppose I didn't really make some of my own...I borrowed them from other people...but you know what I mean.  One I basically credit myself with is drinking Mimosa's all day on the first of the year.  That's a fun one.  As a matter of fact, I'm drinking one right now ☺.  The popping of a cork at midnight is an age-old tradition...but I like to make sure that I have another one or two to pop throughout the day, as well.
I also love the tradition of eating twelve grapes with the twelve strokes of the new year.  Make a mental note of any sour ones, as those may be an indication of tougher months.  But one I've grown to love is making Hoppin' John on New Year's Day.  People usually associate it with the Southern states...but I think it's spread pretty far and wide over the years.

It is traditionally eaten on New Year's Day...and of course there are variations, but for the most part it is a stew-like dish that consists of black-eyed peas, greens, and a smoked pork product.  Mmmmmm...smoked pork.  The black-eyed peas are symbolic of coins and symbolize good fortune in the new year.  By mixing in the greens, you're adding more wealth (green=money) to the pot!  By leaving three beans in the bottom of your bowl, a person can ensure luck, romance, and fortune in the new year*
I've tried a few different recipes, but I think I've found one I'm sticking with in the future...it's a slow-cooker recipe (did you see my review a few days back?) which I love because I just had everything ready to go in the slow cooker and flipped it on low before we went to bed in the wee hours of New Year's morning.  It was ready for brunchin' on when we woke up!  I adapted it a bit and may change it around a little in the future, but it's a fantastic base recipe!

Hoppin' John {slow-cooker recipe}

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes + overnight soak fo
Cook Time: 8-12 hours
Keywords: slow-cooker entree beans greens sausage New Year American Southern winter

Ingredients (serves 10)
  • 1 lb. dry black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced on the bias
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • ½ c. brown rice
  • 1 (10.5 oz) can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
  • 12 oz. collard greens, washed and chopped
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 c. chicken broth or rich chicken stock
  • crushed red chiles
  • balsamic vinegar
Instructions
Place the soaked black-eyed peas in the bottom of a 6 qt. slow-cooker. Add the sausage, onion, garlic, rice, tomatoes w/ chiles, and collard greens. Add salt, pepper, and some crushed red chiles to taste; pour the stock/broth over the whole thing.

Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours, or until beans are soft and tender. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over each bowl at service.

inspired by and adapted from More Make it Fast Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'Dea
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Don't forget to eat a second serving on the day after New Year's.  By doing this, you're demonstrating your fantastic frugal sense... and hey, it never hurts to have an added layer of prosperity in your corner in my opinion.  Oh, but don't call it Hoppin' John anymore...because on the second day, it's called Skippin' Jenny (okay, I don't know if this is true...just heard it this year, I thought it was a fun piece of food lore)*.

How 'bout you?  Do you and your family have any foodie New Year's traditions?

*source: Wikipedia