Two New Year’s recipes.
Traditional food that’s good tasting.
- Hopin’ John.
Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern dish using blackeyed peas and smoked ham hocks. It’s an example of “poor food” that is both good and fills a cultural niche. Eat this on January first and the rest of the year you’ll eat better. Well maybe, I think it’s pretty darn good no matter when you eat it.
- 1/2 pound dried blackeyed peas. Ideally soak these the night before in cold water.
- At least one smoked ham hock.
- One onion coarsely chopped and sauteed at least to the wilt stage
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard.
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
Put the ingredients in a pot, typically the one you saute’ed the onions in, and add enough water to cover the peas with about one inch to spare.
Bring to a boil and simmer until done. It takes several hours for the meat and beans to be completely done with the meat falling off the bone. Periodically stir, and add more water if needed. I adjust the amounts of mustard and hot sauce to taste. This example is a bit rich in ham hocks because they came in a pack of three.
- Stella’s Polish Cabbage.
Stella’s Polish Cabbage is a family recipe from my Irish mother-in-law. She figured out how to cook cabbage the way her husband, a Polish pilot in the RAF during world war 2, liked. My English wife has always called it “Polish Cabbage.” It’s not particularly New Year’s food, but goes exceedingly well with Hoppin’ John.
- 1 Head Cabbage. Cored and coarsely chopped. Sprinkle with salt and set to wilt overnight in the refrigerator. In the old days in England, when the house had a single coal fire, she’d just leave it out on the counter.
- 1 Onion, Coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter and a teaspoon of oil. Melt the butter in the oil (avoids burning).
Thoroughly rinse the cabbage, to remove the excess salt. Saute the onion in the butter and oil mixture. When it is past the wilt stage add the cabbage and cover.
The cabbage will give off water as it wilts. The mixture will rapidly lose about half its volume. Stir to prevent scorching and periodically add a few tablespoons of water. The amount isn’t critical, you need enough to keep it from burning, and it will evaporate over time.
For the next hour, until thoroughly done, simmer over a low heat. Periodically stir and refresh water.