Happy New Year!
I hope that 2013 brings you and yours many wonderful blessings.
A few days ago, I took the meaty bone leftover from our Christmas Eve ham and used it to cook up a big batch of black eyed peas in order to bring us good luck for the new year. The tradition (supposedly) dates back to the Civil War when the fields of peas were ignored by Sherman’s invading troops thereby providing a nourishing staple for the struggling Confederates left behind. If eaten as the first thing in the New Year, they are to bring good luck. Ignorant of this part of the tradition, we ate ours a bit early but I’m still hopeful the good luck spell won’t wear off. We need good weather this year for our garden!
If you don’t have a ham bone, leftover chopped ham or bacon may be used instead; or eliminate the meat altogether as the green chilis should provide enough flavor. Cooked rice and/or cornbread will help stretch this meal and thereby stretch your budget. Good luck aside, that is a wonderful way to start the year.
Black Eyed Peas ‘n Ham
1 ham bone
1 lb. of black eyed peas sorted and soaked overnight
1 T of fat
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 c vermouth or other dry white wine (optional)
1 t dried thyme
2 c of chicken stock
2 4 oz cans of green chilis
1 T of roasted garlic puree if you have it. Otherwise fresh garlic will work just fine.
Heat the fat in a large stock pot. I used the fatty rind from the ham and slowly rendered the fat while I chopped my vegetables, but any fat will work: bacon fat, lard, or olive oil.
Add the onion, celery, and carrots (and fresh garlic if you are using it) and cook slowly until onion begins to turn translucent and vegetables are soft. Sprinkle with the dried thyme and add the vermouth if using and cook for about 5 minutes or until the vermouth has reduced by about 3/4.
Add your chicken stock, the ham bone, peas and enough water to cover, then add the chopped green chilis and garlic puree if desired. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until beans are soft. Serve with a small dollop of sour cream if you wish.