Eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year is a Southern tradition, and a very tasty one, too. My family was more likely to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve for good luck, but I have to admit black eyed peas are wholly more satisfying and enticing than a handful of fruit to be gobbled up quickly in the name of good fortune.
My go-to beans these days come from Rancho Gordo, an heirloom bean company based out of Napa, Calif. I was raised on rice and beans and these varieties are really beautiful and tasty.
I landed on this recipe for black eyed peas from David Tanis, whose cookbook Heart of the Artichoke was one of the first I bought in my now ballooning cookbook collection. He had a simple, brothy setup for the peas, simmering them with ham or bacon and infusing the broth with clove and allspice. Ribbons of collard greens cooked down in garlic and crushed red pepper eventually join the party.
For as much as I spurned black-eyed peas as a teenager, I loved this dish. The beans were incredibly tender and tasted nothing like I’d remembered. Friends and I went back for seconds, dipping biscuits into a broth that made me want to lick my lips after every bite. I hope you get a chance to enjoy a bowl of these, too, on New Year’s Day. Happy to see you, 2017.
Black-Eyed Peas With Ham Hock and Collard Greens
2 pounds black-eyed peas, soaked overnight if possible
2 pounds smoked ham hock, meaty ham bone or slab bacon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large onion, peeled and stuck with 2 cloves
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 pounds collard greens, cut in 1-inch ribbons (about 8 cups)
1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped, for garnish
Drain peas and put them in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add ham hock or bone (if using slab bacon, cut it into 2-inch chunks), cover with 10 cups water and turn heat to high. Add salt, onion stuck with cloves, bay leaf, black pepper and allspice.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until peas are tender. Throughout cooking, add water as necessary, always keeping liquid level 1 inch above surface, stirring with wooden spoon occasionally. Turn off heat. Check broth for salt and adjust seasoning. Mixture should be fairly brothy. With a pair of tongs, remove ham hock, ham bone or bacon. Chop meat and skin in rough pieces and set aside.
Put a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and heat until wavy. Add garlic and red pepper and let sizzle without browning. Add collard greens and stir to coat. Season with salt and add 1 cup water, stirring to help wilt greens. Add chopped ham and reduce heat to medium, then cover with lid slightly ajar and cook until greens are soft, about 20 minutes. Check seasoning.
To serve, put greens and meat in low soup bowls, then ladle over hot black-eyed peas. Sprinkle with scallions.
Recipe from The New York Times.