Start the New Year right!

If you’re southern, chances are you have some kind of greens cooking up with some cut of pork, along with a pot of black-eye peas and a skillet of cornbread. Maybe your black-eye peas are part of a Hoppin’ John dish, which is mixed with spices and rice. It’s a New Year’s Day tradition and believed to bring good luck.

There are other traditions, worldwide, but I grew up with the southern version. I resisted it, too, until my adult years when I discovered the food tasted good together. Legumes and leafy green vegetables are healthful, so eating them on New Year’s Day starts off the year on a positive note, at least nutritionally. But where did the ideas that such cuisine brought good luck originate?

Who knows for sure. There is a theory that because the pig digs with its snout in a forward motion, the pig symbolizes progress, or forward movement. Conversely, eating poultry on New Year’s Day was thought to bring bad luck because fowl scratch and move backward as they eat. Greens symbolize money, wealth, or financial health. Anything from cabbage to spinach qualifies as the traditional “greens.” Black-eye peas represent wealth, too, in the form of coins. Mixing greens with the black-eye peas covers all currency, bills and coins.

I like the idea of a one-pot meal that covers all the good luck bases, so I experimented with three versions of New Year’s Day dishes. One is a pressure cooker meal that cooks pork chops, black-eyed peas, and cabbage together yet I serve them separately with the traditional cornbread. Another is a skillet meal combining the pork and black-eye peas, wilting in greens (collards, turnip, spinach, etc.) at the end. Cooking rice, peas, pork, and greens separately is too much work and dirties up too many pots for my liking. Finally, I cook a one-pot Hoppin’ John with Greens in the pressure cooker. So here are three hasty tasty meals for New Year’s.

RECIPE

One Pot Dinner
Serves Four

Prepare this in a 4-quart pressure cooker. Why mess up three pots when one will do?

Ingredients:

4 pork chops (bone in, preferably)
nonstick cooking spray
½ cup water
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 can black-eye peas, drained and rinsed
1 head cabbage, cored and quartered
1 tsp. Cajun spices

Directions:

Spray bottom inside of cooker with cooking spray (I prefer Canola oil spray). Heat cooker over medium heat, add the rice and stir until rice is browned. Add pork chops and brown on both sides. Add water and spices and bring to pressure. Cook under pressure 15 minutes, then quick-release.

Carefully open cooker (remove lid away from you to avoid steam burns) and add black-eye peas and cabbage. Close lid, bring to pressure and cook 5 minutes. Remove cooker from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own.

Open lid and plate food with one cabbage quarter and one pork chop each, then stir rice and peas together for Hoppin’ John. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve each plate with ¼ the Hoppin’ John. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Skillet Pork Chops, Black-eye Peas, and Collards
Serves Four

Ingredients:

4 pork chops
nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup chopped onions*
1 cup chopped bell pepper*
1 can black-eye peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup broth or liquid of choice (can be wine, beer, water, etc.)
1 pkg. collard greens, washed and ready to use
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste, depending on the desired heat level)
pinch of sugar, salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Place chops in skillet but do not move or turn. Brown the pork chops on each side approximately 4 minutes or until the chop releases easily to turn. After turning the chops, add the peppers and onions.

Sauté chops, peppers and onions for 3-5 minutes, add garlic and stir. Then add the black-eye peas and broth. Using the back of a wooden spoon, deglaze the pan until all the cooked on pork chops is incorporated into the broth. Place the greens on top in small bunches, wilting the greens into the mixture before adding more. Gradually all the greens will fit into the skillet.

Cover the skillet and reduce heat to low. Simmer until greens are tender but not overcooked. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar according to taste. Serve with a side of brown rice and some cornbread. Have a happy new year!


 

*Or use 2 cups of frozen pepper stir fry, thawed

RECIPE

Hopping John and Greens
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:
1 cup dried black eye peas
1 cup uncooked brown rice
3 cups water
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic (or to taste–we like more!)

1 packet Goya® ham seasoning
½ cup cubed lean cooked ham
1 Tbsp. Cajun spices (or to taste)
1 package greens (your choice–I use collards)
1 tsp. sugar

Directions:

In a 6-quart pressure cooker, add all ingredients in the order listed, sprinkling the sugar over the greens. Greens will fill the pot, which contradicts most pressure cooker instructions of filling the pot only 2/3, but greens cook down quickly. Close lid and bring to pressure. Cook for 15 minutes under pressure.

After 15 minutes, remove pressure cooker from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own for 10 minutes. Release pressure then carefully open. Stir the greens into the peas and rice thoroughly then serve.

Leftovers make great burritos. Just add salsa and cheese, wrap in a warmed tortilla, and enjoy!  Prospero año y felicidad.

1 Comment

Filed under black-eye peas, casseroles, Healthful Eating, Pork Chops, Recipes

One response to “Start the New Year right!

  1. Reblogged this on HASTY TASTY MEALS KITCHEN and commented:

    Happy New Year! Here’s an encore post by request from readers. Enjoy!

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