Enjoying a big bowl of black eyed peas and cabbage on NYD is a traditional Southern dinner dating back as far as the Civil War. http://gosoutheast.about.com/ Originally black eyed peas were grown in the South for livestock feed during the war but afterwards it became a staple for the battle wrecked and now impoverished Southerners. Cabbage was a local winter crop and plentiful at the time of the New Year so it just naturally ended up on the table. I grew up eating this simple, yet hearty meal every January 1st with my family. The black eyed peas were thought to bring good luck throughout the new year and and the cabbage, with it’s large green leaves, represented money for prosperity and it’s highly nutritional value represented the hope for good health. No matter the history or superstitions beliefs behind these two humble ingredients they are as delightfully nostalgic for me as they are delicious and as far as I’m concerned they make an excellent and affordable dinner any night of the week.
Southern NYD Black Eyed Peas
1 pkg dried Black Eyed Peas, rinsed and sorted to remove any possible stones
1 smoked Ham Hock, optional
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 sweet onion, diced
3 Vegetable Bouillon cubes
6 to 8 cups water, less water for thicker peas (watch out for burning tho!)
3 to 4 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Bold Creole Seasoning, or your favorite Cajun Seasoning
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 jalapeno, sliced and stem removed, optional
Salt and Pepper to taste
Set your slow cooker to low and add in water, peas, ham hock, bouillon, tomatoes, onion, and all remaining ingredients. Stir, cover, and allow peas to simmer 4 to 6 hours or until the peas are tender. Add more water if needed to prevent burning. If you have a bit more broth than you like, smash a few of the peas and stir to thicken. Once the peas are tender, remove the ham hock and discard the bones, skin, and fat. Shred the remaining ham (should be about two tablespoons or so of meat) and stir that back into the peas. Also discard the bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve the black eyed peas with rice or cornbread.
Note: If you are intimidated by ham hock or just don’t like it, you can substitute thick cut bacon, smoked sausage, smoked turkey, or pancetta in its place. If you want to keep the peas vegetarian/vegan add liquid smoke a little at a at a time until the peas are as smokey as you like and skip the meat altogether. You can also use a smoked salt and/or increase the amount of the smoked paprika for the same flavor.
Southern NYD Cabbage
1 head of cabbage, trimmed, washed, and core removed then chopped into large chunks
1 pkg all natural or farm fresh Cajun Style Sausage, sliced, optional
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons Spicy Brown Mustard, or to taste
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Spanish Paprika
1/4 dry Red Wine
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over med high flame. Brown the sausage and then set aside on a towel lined plate. Delgaze the skillet with the red wine and apple cider vinegar and cook until slightly reduced. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cabbage, and stir until well combined. Next gently stir in the chopped cabbage until well coated and continue to saute the cabbage for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the cabbage has started to crisp and brown around the edges, add the water, stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce is completely thickened and the cabbage leaves are tender. Serve immediately.
Note: if you are skipping the sausage, increase the paprika and if desired, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.