Stirring the Pot for Good Fortune

For many, consuming this frugal dish on the first day of the year is said to augur prosperity.

Comments: 60

  1. love black eyes. now i use a small amount of smoked turkey because i do not eat pig. and served over rice, definitely need the cornbread. many markets, even in calif have fresh black eyed peas thus time of the year. shelled. much essier. i don't know if they really help with luck but am not about to risk going without to find out. also great as texas 'caviar' in sweet/sour dressing, cold. or ground cooked peas with some cumin etc as texas hummus. very good however they are prepared.

  2. I like that "Texas hummus" idea. I would add some Tahini, too, just as in traditional hummus and baba ganouj. Black Eyed Peas seem like a very tasty twist on it.

  3. I like them year round. Cooked with only salt and pepper, served with rice and cheddar.

  4. I use fatback and a piece of leftover ham end from Christmas. I fry the fatback to render it, then remove the crispy rinds and crumble them back into the pot.

    I usually cook collard greens separately, and OUTSIDE since the stink so much, but are oh so delicious.

    Now I'm hungry.

  5. Could this be done with something other than pork? Smoked turkey perhaps? Muslim friends at New Year dinner.

  6. My thought, exactly. I've cooked black eye peas w smoked turkey, for years. Delicious! And, without any meat, I've added onions - even carrots - for extra flavor - and, I've had great results.

  7. I would use a fattier meat such as lamb shank or lamb neck, or possibly beef short ribs.

  8. Yes.... Beans goes well with fish or shrimps too. Back then in Africa, we add roasted fish to well prepared beans and it taste unique.

  9. I recommend adding some sweet-sour relish on the side. Alternatively, cook the collards on a garlicky vinegrette & add that to the cooked peas. They're kind of bland otherwise. Also, try making the cornbread in a more southern style, without sugar. My (Kentucky) grandmother used white corn meal, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, & butter. She had a kind of iron muffin pan that she'd bake the cornbread in. The corn flavor came through better than with the cakier flour-&-sugar cornbread that's more common.

  10. Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen has a recipe for a quinoa & cornmeal flour based cornbread that is rather nutty than sweet. Hands down the best cornbread I've ever tasted, and always a huge hit at potlucks. (I just never tell people it's vegan!)

  11. I would love a meat-free version of this! Sounds like a nice tradition to start for the new year.

  12. I make a vegan version for New Year. I cook the rice in vegetarian broth, with sundried tomatoes and Penzey's Fajita seasoning. I also sautee parsley (lots of it) instead of collards; the parsley gives the dish a nice fresh taste. I might try the collards this year, though, to see how the dish tastes. I do add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar when serving, which gives a bit of zing to the dish. My version is a close adaptation of Barb Bloomfield's recipe in "More Fabulous Beans".

  13. Kate, just leave out the pork and make sure there's enough good olive oil to make the collard leaves glisten. It doesn't take much, maybe a couple of tablespoons full. I like the vegetarian version better. My Yankee neighbors like it, too.

  14. Kate, just leave out the pork and use enough good olive oil to make the collard leaves glisten, not much at all. I prefer the vegetarian version and my Yankee neighbors love it.

  15. So what meat did/do the Sephardim cook their black-eyed peas with?

  16. I'm confused. We open with,

    "Sephardic Jews were evidently eating black-eyed peas for good luck on Rosh Hashana centuries ago, and the custom eventually traveled with them to America."

    ...and close with the Yiddish-ism "It couldn't hurt.."

    ...but then suggest ham hocks, pigs feet, and other piggy parts for the recipe.

    Are you saying that the Jewish and African-American traditions arouse separately or that one evolved from the other? If the latter, how did the trayfe stuff get in there?

  17. I make a version of this with smoked turkey and turkey sausages, for the reasons you note -- and get the same smoky flavor. The article appears to be talking about two different traditions without making the distinction.

  18. Perhaps the implication is that somehow the Sephardi tradition of eating simanim ("auspicious omens") ended up in the South, without going into detail as to why or how. It does seem to follow a similar logic - eat foods that symbolise what you hope to acheive in the coming year, e.g. pomegranates so your merits are as numerous as the pomegranate seeds, apple dipped in honey so you have a sweet new year, black eyed peas (whose name in Aramaic is "rubia", similar to the word "yirbu", meaning to increase) so that your merits may increase during the year.

  19. It is entirely possible for two cultures to develop similar traditions independently of one another.

  20. The dish sounds delicious, but not to spoil the charming auguring wealth myth, why are the southern states some of the poorest in the country?

  21. We wish. So we eat the black eyed peas.

  22. Ouch, couldn't resist it, could you, Eddie? From this Southerner, a wish for prosperity for all of us, a goal which seems to be getting more difficult all the time.

  23. And another anti-Southern dig. To be expected in these pages I guess.

  24. There's no need to soak the black-eyed peas. They cook as quick as lentils.

  25. Where I'm from (North Carolina), the collards insure prosperity (and the article does point out that they're the color of money), and the hoppin' john insures a lucky year to follow. It's worked that way for me so far except for the prosperity part. And rice and cornbread (made with white cornmeal) are de rigor, as they say in the cardiac wards. I don't see the rice in the otherwise beautiful photograph.
    And a friend of mine in Southern Maryland adds a teaspoonful of soda to the collards while they're cooking themselves to death.

  26. This article is half right. As a cardiologist I care for those having such a high salt load from the salt port, ham hocks, and smoked turkey wings as flavoring, thereby inducing hypertension. Use cilantro, olive oil, garlic, brown-not white rice, various herbs, and high end vinegars or limes to safely get that salt-taste without salt and thereby prevent high blood pressure. Have you eaten those Southern foods? This is soul food because it turns people into souls (no longer alive). Where these foods are eaten as in this recipe = the highest incidence of hypertension and stroke in the USA-from the salt load.

  27. I,and loads of others,will still enjoy the ham. Thanks for the lecture though.

  28. I had a friend from Colorado who just died at an early age from smoking. He enjoyed his cigarettes. Lectures didn't save him either.

  29. If I use a smoked turkey wing a couple of times a year to flavor my peas, it's not going to cause me to develop hypertension- that's absurd.

  30. Please don't soak the black-eyed peas. In fact it's easy to overcook them and they turn to mush.

  31. Black-eyed peas actually take less time to cook than other dried beans. I usually soak them for maybe 4-6 hours at most, and then they will cook in an hour or less. I cook them with chopped carrots, garlic, oregano, and basil; no meat.

  32. If you have a pressure cooker, you don't need to pre soak the beans before cooking.

  33. but don't forget to add in the okra! Its flavor is perfectly matched to the beans and ham.

  34. No need to soak the beans over night... They cook faster if you cook it with one slice onions. Beans is one of my favourite food. I am so gonna eat this on New year day.

  35. The collards are cooked separately in the South. Never in the same pot as the black eyed peas.

  36. I have been eating peas and greens on New Year's for as long as I can remember. (In my day Texans called black eyed peas "peas" and green peas "English peas" which is what they are called in Spanish.) The story told me by my Texas ancestors was this.

    It was traditional to eat ham on New Year's but poor mothers could not afford ham and so served peas and greens. When their children would ask why they couldn't have ham too the mothers would reply, "You see those greens? Well every one of those greens is a dollar bill you're going to have in your pocket in the New Year. And you see those peas? Well every one of those peas is a coin you're going to have in your pocket in the New Year. Now eat your peas and greens."

    Fortunately, this year I can afford ham, but I will still serve it with the lucky peas and greens.

    Also, I cheat and make the greens Italian style sauteed in olive oil with garlic and red pepper.

  37. Vegetarians, all over the world, poor or not, skip the ham. The black eyed peas still taste delicious without ham.

  38. I swan (to use a very southern mild phrase), where do you folks come from? It's soul food, comfort food, good nutritious food, these black-eyed peas. High in protein, cheap and tastes great. We know a thing or two about all those things. And yes, you can make it veggie with vegetable stock. But please, please, don't forget the cornbread!!

  39. "Black-eyed peas also arrived in Florida and the Caribbean, carried by African slaves." Really?

    From what I know of the terrible Middle Passage, enslaved Africans were in no position to take along their favorite foods. If they could have brought black-eyed peas aboard, it's unlikely any food would have lasted past the months below deck where the enslaved Africans were held in shackles.

    Perhaps black-eyed peas were brought aboard the slave ships in Africa. But not by the Africans themselves, for their own purposes.

  40. What they probably brought with them was their KNOWLEDGE of how to cultivate and prepare such foods. Indeed, slaves from different parts of Africa were more highly prized because of their perceived temperaments or skills, for example, how to cultivate rice.

  41. Just as good meat free. I add diced canned tomatoes, cumin and coriander along with recipe described above and serve over steamed rice. Serve a hot sauce such as Red Rooster or Tabasco on the side to season to taste.

  42. FYI. Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens have been the staple of Black folks' "Soul Food" for ages! -- Surprised your historical reference didn't really delve into this besides the casual reference to "African slaves" bringing them to America. In fact, beans were their only source of available protein because meat was considered a valuable commodity, and reserved for the "Master" of the house...just another little tidbit for the back story. Happy New Year!

  43. Actually, black-eyed peas and collard greens have not only been the staple of "soul food", they have been the staple of poor folks' food in the South for ages, regardless of ethnicity. When Soul Food became the rage in the late 60s and early 70s, I was surprised to find that I had already been eating it all my life -- and I'm a white Southerner...

  44. When living in NYC, I went to a soul food restaurant with my very affluent friends and when I opened the menu - wow what an epiphany - this was food I had eaten all my life in S IN. They even had Polk salad which had been covered with hot bacon grease - talk about flavorful.
    Once when working as a market researcher for the Coca-Cola company we determined that poor white and black people had exactly the same taste preferences. Of course we kept this information to ourselves - can you imagine telling a poor white man he had exactly the same preferences as a poor black man.
    BTW my ancestors came to this country in 1608 and their descendents had some of the largest plantations along the James River in VA. Thomas Jefferson was their surveyor of record and they fought at Yorktown under Alexander Hamilton and helped him take Redoubt #10. As slaves frequently took their masters name - I have encountered several black men with my name - discovering my ancestors owned large numbers of slaves was an epiphany.

  45. For the NYE dinner, I am providing Jowl Bacon, Roast Goose and black eyed peas along with several bottles of very good champagne. I doubt many have had Jowl Bacon - used to fix it always as a "Butch" or butcher and wow talk about flavor. Used to skin Jowl Bacon of the actual skin of the hog.
    If you want to be really authentic, you should also eat scrambled eggs with hog dura (brains). Did that in my younger days - my friends are not that adventuresome.
    BTW I used to help neighbors slaughter and roast/smoke hogs. You can't eat boar hogs - they must be castrated. Joni Ernst, our US Senator from IA - used to do that and she said she made them squall. No biggie for a country boy like me - the dogs always were trying to get those things to eat as they were very tasty to a country dog.
    One other thing - we used the castrated hog's (called a barrow) stomach to contain all the left overs including the dura, placed them in the stomach and boiled it - some call it haggis - we called it head cheese and wow was it tasty.
    The final part of the process was to boil the small squares of fat and then render it and then press all the excess fat out. Wow was it tasty - we called those tasty tid bits cracklins as they crackled when boiled in the large cast iron pot over a roaring wood fire.
    Butchering a hog/barrow started at daylight and went until well after dark. We would cold smoke all the hams and bacon in a smoke house.

  46. Italians have a similar tradition though it involves rice. Usually we will have risotto on New Year's Day. Each kernel of rice brings luck for the rest of the year!

  47. Black eyed peas are one of the dried legumes that do not need to be soaked
    overnight (as are lentils). They cook quite quickly after simple rinsing. For New Year's day I traditionally make a lucky gumbo soup with the peas, collards, turkey sausage (pardon to the pig), okra and tomatoes. Of course it begins with the "holy trinity" of onions, celery and red bell pepper. Spices top it off. It is easier to throw it all together to cook in one pot with a chicken stock base. It can be ladled over a pile of brown rice or a custardy chunk of spoon bread. Healthy, yummy and very lucky!

  48. I find that frozen Black-Eyed peas are the best to use, quick to cook and very tender. I saute onion, garlic, salt, pepper, a little Tamari and a little dried red pepper in Safflower oil. Throw in two packages of frozen B-E'd peas and cover with water or vegetable broth for a delicious vegan dish.

  49. My search for "fresh" black-eyed peas yesterday was an epic struggle. But
    "fresh" may be the wrong word. The product I always get is a pre-soaked bean with a slightly fermented aroma. A purist might insist on fully dried peas and do the soak themselves. Still, there was that tang to the pre-soaks that greatly enhanced its natural earthy flavor. Every New Year's Eve season they could be found just down the street.
    Not any more.
    As a matter of fact, the pluckish fellow in charge of the produce department had never even heard of the product, the tradition, or the rich history the bowling-ally-turned-supermarket had in providing the community with this annual necessity. It's been like that ever since the Dutch conglomerate that took over operations of our beat-up but always there for you local grocery store "renovated" it from a place you could find anything you needed to a perfectly groomed wasteland of ever-shrinking over-priced and over-packaged tintinnabulation.
    They had no "fresh". They had no dried. The few cans of canned Sylvia's that I had seen migrating from one part of the computer controlled operation to another over the summer and fall were lost somewhere during one of the frequent and confounding aisle reorganizations. ( Few cashiers available, but the store is choked with managers holding tablets and reorganizing things )
    So I went elsewhere.
    Three hours and five elsewheres later, I found 'em.
    Happy New Year one and all.

  50. "over-priced and over-packaged" residual from a bell being rung? I believe you are using tintinnabulation incorrectly and certainly shopping at the wrong store. Fresh black-eyed peas are heavenly! Happy New Year!

  51. Blackeyes grow well in the South where the days are hot and the nights are warm, elsewhere they don't do so well and aren't found in fresh produce stands. Where I grew up we would get them fresh in the summer, shell most of them and snap some, then have a feast of them with ham and cornbread. New Year's in July! The flavor of the freshly-shelled peas is something I sorely miss.

  52. Why don't you recommend browning/carmelizing the pork before it goes in the pot? You give up wonderful deep flavor if you don't!

  53. Enjoyed learning about this tradition. My Italian grandmother prepared a dish of lentils each New Year's Eve, and each of us were required to consume a heaping tablespoon for "good luck" in the New Year

  54. Does this suggest that it was customary for Sephardic Jews to add a meaty ham bone or salt pork, bacon, pigs feet, hog jowl and ham hocks to their black eyed peas? And I doubt the "color of money" or the "color of gold" influenced any side dishes.

  55. No, he's talking about cooking peas in the Southern tradition in referencing the pork products. And yes, collards represent money, while the peas represent good health for the New Year. Personally, I prefer to cook the peas and collards separately, and I cook the collards with a smoked turkey wing.

  56. Regardless it is pretty appalling that the list of "other options" only includes pork products, none of which are actually necessary. I've been making a vegetarian Hoppin' John for New Year's Day for decades and it is always a hit.

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  58. This is a really bland dish. I made it with the ham hocks. Apparently, I lack the discerning taste buds to appreciate the "exquisite texture and aroma" of black eyed peas. You have to add a lot of hot sauce to move this one into the realm of yum.

  59. His version is bland, but most Southerners don't prepare peas that way. You have to add some paprika, cayenne pepper, and a little cumin while they are cooking.

  60. Well, as so many readers mentioned, you needn't soak black eyed peas. I've prepared them in different ways, including a lovely salad by Martha Rose Shulman (she doesn't soak them either). However, this recipe, which I prepared on December 31 (because things like this usually taste better the next day), was a bust and a total waste of time, ingredients and effort. The husband, who is game for just about any new culinary experience, tasted it and then tasted it again. His comment was, ' this is not growing on me'. Other description included, 'yuck', 'ick' and 'blech'. Nothing I could do to it changed our opinions. So, the entire mess now resides somewhere in the Marco Island sewer system.

    Don't let this put off by Mr. Tanis' recipes. They are usually tasty and diverse. Everyone, once in a while, hits a loser!