Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Southern New Year's Day (sans football)

I tried a new recipe for New Year's Day. Evidently it's not optional to have black-eyed peas around here on New Year's. I have no clue how to fix them, so I pounced on this recipe from my neighbor. It is SO GOOD. I ate probably half the pan singlehandedly over the last two days! :)


Black-Eyed Corn Bread

1 tsp. butter
1 lb. spicy loose fresh pork sausage meat
1 med. yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 c. white cornmeal (I used yellow)
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk (I used regular milk with a 1 tsp. lemon juice - let it sit to curdle a little)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 c.)
1 (15-oz.) can black-eyed peas, drained
3/4 c. canned creamed-style corn
1/2 c. canned chopped green chilies
1/2 c. drained sliced pickled jalapenos, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x13-inch baking dish with butter. Break sausage meat into chunks and put into a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, breaking sausage up with a slotted spoon until meat is just cooked through - about 10 minutes. Transfer sausage and onions to paper towels to let drain.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, salt and beking soda together in a large bowl. Beat eggs, buttermilk and oil together in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture to cornmeal mixture, stirring until cornmeal mixture is just moistened (batter will be lumpy). Stir in sausage mixture, cheese, black-eyed peas, corn, green chilies, and jalapenos. Pour batter into prepared dish, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Bake until golden brown - 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

And for your "Gee, Whiz" file:

Black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Year's Day in the American South and in some other parts of the USA. In some areas, they are served as a starchy side dish, cooked with or without fatback and/or diced onion, and often served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar. In other areas, they are served in a traditional dish called "Hoppin' John" made of black-eyed peas cooked with rice, sometimes pork (such as hog jowls, neckbone, hock, or fatback), and seasonings.

The traditional meal also features collard or mustard greens or cabbage. This is supposed to bring good luck and financial enrichment. The peas stand for good luck, the greens symbolize paper money. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.

These "good luck" traditions date back to the U.S. Civil War. Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, would typically strip the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock and destroy whatever they couldn't carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" and corn suitable only for animal fodder, and as a result didn't steal or destroy these humble foods. Many Southerners survived as a result of this mistake. (from Wikipedia--hope it's true--ha).


snbjork said...[Reply to comment]

Well, Michelle, I've been educated! My Mom often prepared black eyed peas and I think she did greens sometimes, too (even though there were probably only two or three of us who ate them) on New Years. But, I never knew why that was traditional. Neat story! And that cornbread recipe looks really yummy.

The Grand High Budge Mom said...[Reply to comment]

What a fun recipe! I'd love to start including such traditions in our family (Tapa is from the South ;) Thanks for including the history too--very interesting. I'll have to follow your good example, and strive to become a good cook some day.

Mom/Nana/A. Nancy said...[Reply to comment]

I'm not sure it is a real New Year's Day without football--according to your dad and brothers anyway. :)