As we prepare to ring in the new year I am reminded of another family tradition.  This one goes back before the tradition of Shrimp on Christmas Eve.  It’s “Black-Eyed Peas for luck on New Year’s Day”.

I remember mom making black-eyed peas on New Years Day and trying to convince us that they were for “Luck” in the new year.  There were years that she had to convince us to just eat one spoonful.  While I do remember the having to be convinced part, I don’t actually remember not liking them.  Memories are funny things sometimes. Thanks to my mom, I still eat Black-Eyed Peas every year on New Year’s Day.  I take this tradition very seriously.  🙂

Many years ago (about 20), my husband wanted to go fishing on New Year’s Day but I wasn’t willing to not eat Black-Eyed Peas so we loaded up the car with all of the fishing gear and a camping stove and drove down to Galveston. (We lived in Houston) He fished in the cold and I cooked those Black-Eyed Peas on that camping stove.  May seem funny but right now that simple memory is making me smile.  It was so cold and I sat in the car for hours, but dangit I was cooking those peas!! (yeah I just got a little southern)

While sitting in freakishly slow traffic yesterday, I had one of those “Light bulb over the head” thoughts….. Cooking_Girl-44

I HAVE TO BUY BLACK-EYED PEAS!”  I can’t believe I almost forgot!!  How is this even possible??  The next thought was “That’s what happened in 2014……. And I sort of knowingly, slowly nodded my head and gave life the ol’ side-eye.  I didn’t eat my Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day…..  I was in Florida visiting my mother for the Holidays and I got sick. I was horribly sick!   On New Year’s Day I don’t think I spent more than an hour out of bed. I didn’t eat, I didn’t drink I just slept.  Well, I did drink…I added booze to some hot tea and mom did buy a bottle of bubbles so we could properly ring in the new year. I don’t remember opening that bottle…. now that I think about it, this might be another issue for 2014.

This year I am not taking any chances!  As soon as I post this, I am heading to the store to pick up some Black-Eyed Peas and I will soak them tonight. Tomorrow there will be a gloriously lucky pot of Black-Eyed Peas on my stove and I will serve them with a little brown sugar cornbread.  Mmmm Mmm I’m feeling lucky already.

I use ham and prefer a bone in ham so that I can use that bone in the pot while cooking.  If I can’t find one today, I’ll be using pancetta.  I have over a pound of it in the freezer and it really does give the peas a great flavor..   If I’m cooking for friends and the black-eyed peas aren’t the main dish, I use my teacake pan and make mini cornbread muffins and serve the dish as an appetizer.

Blackeyed PeasGet out a pot and let’s cook up some luck!

Black-Eyed Peas with Ham. Served with Bacon & Brown Sugar Cornbread

1 Package Dried Black-Eyed Peas
1 Pound Ham, Bacon, Pancetta or Pork of your choice (you will need the fat so keep that in mind)
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Onion
1 Carrot
2 Stalks Celery
1 Bunch Kale
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder or Seasoning Blend of choice – to taste

2Start by doing the overnight soak on the black-eyed peas. I have used the quick soak method in the past but have found that the longer cold water soak is better.

Once your black-eyed peas are ready, start by chopping the ham into smallish cubes. (pancetta was really good and bacon is really good too and no need to add more fat if using these. Ham bones with fat are better if you have them)

3Heat a pot over medium until hot. Add a little olive oil and the ham. Brown for a few minutes then remove the ham from the pan and set aside.

The ham I used was pretty lean so I did add bacon fat to the pot. Yes I said bacon fat. I had some from cooking and the black-eyed peas really do need the fat. Not a lot but trust me, you’ll taste the difference. (about 2 TBSP)

Add the butter and a little more olive oil to the pan. Then add the carrot, celery and onion. Add some pepper too. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
4Add the ham back to the pot.
Add the peas to the pot.
6Stir well to blend.

Add the stock and some salt, pepper and garlic powder.

7Cover the pot and cook the black-eyed peas over medium low to medium heat for about an hour.

Stirring and seasoning as they cook.

Add the kale. Mix well.

8Return the lid to the pot, turn off the heat and start your cornbread.

For the cornbread, I used Alber’s Cornmeal and the basic recipe on the box BUT I substituted brown sugar for the granulated sugar and I added 4 pieces of chopped crispy bacon.

When your cornbread is ready, your black-eyed peas will be too. This gives the kale time to wilt properly and all the seasonings to blend well.

9Plate it however you’d like. Put the cornbread in a bowl and top with black-eyed peas or serve the cornbread on the side with a little butter.
I also eat cabbage on New Year’s Day.  The cabbage is for money.  So there will be Black-Eyed Peas, Cornbread and Cabbage in my kitchen tomorrow.  Who couldn’t use a little “Luck & Money”?

A little side note about serving – This dish goes AMAZINGLY well with Pinot Noir.  I tested this with two friends wines.  Check out Passaggio Wines and Hardball Cellars.  Give them a try.
Great wines made by wonderful friends.  Cheers!