Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! Now Let's Get Down To Makin' Bacon For Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

Finished Southern New Year's Day meal: Black-eyed peas with bacon, fresh greens (kale, this time) sliced onion, lemon, garnished with Goat's Milk Chavrie and Spicy Plum Chutney. And if you're inclined (I'm not a beer drinker, but make an exception today), a good tangy Corona goes well with this. I'm not a slave to recipes and like to mix and match things up. To wit, this would be just as good with a white Cheddar (or yogurt), any other kind of greens, any chutney and/or baked fruit balance off the saltiness of the bacon.

ONLY ONE GOOD REASON I've learned moderation on New Year's Eve over the years: It's because it's much more fun to wake up the next day, the first day, feeling like a million so I can do my Southern thing in the kitchen to bring the year in in style, with good luck and prosperity. No self-respecting Southern woman would let the day pass without fixing, not cooking mind you, but fixing black-eyed peas and their accouterments for good luck and fortune. And after all we've been through in 2008, don't we need all the good luck we can get, from any and every pot and skillet we can pull out of our cupboards?

This year, I'm not in my own kitchen, but rather guest cooking in a relative's in Washington. It's not easy cause I like my own stuff better and know where it all is. Nevertheless, I'm going to blog it as I go.

First let's talk about the bacon, above. It's an essential for the black-eyed peas. In truth, I cook bacon only 5-10 times a year now. But when I cook it, I'm extremely finicky as to how it's done.
Just as I like the whites of eggs hard (and the yolks soft), I like bacon cooked thoroughly and slowly. I don't like half raw bacon, instead preferring it crisp, but never over done. Over the years I've ruined more bacon than any other single food I've ever cooked. The bacon above was my second batch cause I ruined the first one on the gas stove (which I love, but am not as used to cooking on) when I left the room and came back five minutes later to find the charred remains. Second time was a charm though and it turned out exactly right. This year, I just couldn't bring myself to cook black-eyed peas from scratch, so I did the next best thing which was to buy several decent cans and go from there. Above, I've put the peas in a casserole dish I found and added chopped onion (garlic, fine), green peppers, and tomatoes, a little more salt, and olive oil. Then I've baked it for a little while in a 350 degree oven.
Above are two stalks of kale and onion in a little water, olive oil before cooking down.In the old days, Southerners cooked this with ham hock for hours and hours. But I let go of cooking like that years ago. Then too a little bacon in the black-eyed peas does the duty for the other.
After 20-30 minutes of cooking the kale with the lid on, it cooks down and I use kitchen scissors to wheddle it down even further into bit-sized pieces.

Happy, prosperous and blessed 2009. Thanks for coming by.


Anonymous said...

Comrade Jane, When the revolution comes, you shall have no fear of the firing squad, for with this dish, all of your bourgeois, capitalist (conservative) sins against the working class shall be forgiven! And you will find your place in the work force of the great proletarian kitchen. Long live the worldwide gastronomic revolution!

Webutante said...

This is soul food that transcends race, color, creed, and tax bracket, honey chile. Somehow I don't think Comrade Putin is having this today. But thanks nonetheless.

vanderleun said...

Yummmm. Now I'm hungry.

Unknown said...

LOL Cute post and boy, what reminders it brought back from my days in South Carolina! I myself have never cooked or 'fixed' black eyed peas and greens on New Year's. I have had the pleasure of friend's 'fixin' it for me though! I love do love tradition and it breaks my heart that I've let this one go! Time to reclaim it for 2010!

Rita Loca said...

We call it Hoppin' John.
The black eyed peas are for 'change' and the greens are for 'dollars'!