Happy New Year! Here in the South, you HAVE to eat pork, black-eyed peas and collard greens for a good year. The tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck dates back to the Civil War, when General Sherman's troops destroyed all of the southern crops except for the humble black-eyed pea, which was used back then to feed livestock. The peas (which are actually technically a bean) represent coins, and the collard greens represent paper money. Cornbread always appears with beans & greens, and is often said to represent gold.
Would you rather have these or the coins?
I like to prepare my black-eyed peas and collard greens just before bed on New Years Eve; I use a large slow cooker, adding smoked sausage as my pork. Nothing beats waking up on New Years Day to a house smelling of collards and peas, and having a hearty meal ready to serve.
Slow-Cooker Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens
1 lb dried black-eyed peas
1 large bunch collard greens, trimmed and cut into pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into rounds
4 cups (1 quart) chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
First and foremost, sort and soak your black-eyed peas. Since I'm using a large slow cooker with a removable crock, I soak my peas in it. Just cover the peas with several inches of cold water, and let soak 8 hours or more. Since I prepare this meal just before bed, I soak my peas all day on New Years Eve.
Use a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. If you do not have a large slow cooker, simply reduce the recipe.
After soaking, drain and rinse the peas and return them to the slow cooker. Prepare your onion, celery and bell pepper; add to the slow cooker.
Slice your smoked sausage into rounds and add it to the slow cooker. If you don't want to use smoked sausage, you can substitute a ham hock, leftover Christmas ham, or even a ham steak, cut into pieces.
I accidentally bought a spicy smoked sausage, but it still turned out great.
Next, add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper. I used storebought chicken broth here since I didn't need as strong of a chicken flavor; typically I prefer to use my homemade stock.
Not much room left for the collards!
Trim your collard greens; remove the thick stem from the center, and cut the greens into squares. Wash, drain and add to the slow cooker; these will wilt down considerably when cooking, so don't worry about the slow cooker being filled to the brim.
Do NOT put the stems in the garbage disposal. Trust me on this one.
Cover the slow cooker and set the timer (if your slow cooker has one) to LOW for 8-12 hours. I find that 10 hours is just the right amount of time to cook everything without it becoming mushy.
Once cooked, the peas and greens can be kept warm in the slow cooker all day. If desired, you can serve this (and the pot likker) over cooked rice. I prefer a simple skillet cornbread instead.
I forgot to take a "plated picture", but, this isn't exactly a visually-appealing dish anyway. But taste ALWAYS trumps appearance...at least to me!
Hope everyone has a great 2011!