This article is not by the curator. No, this entry is from our new managing editor who also happens to be my wife. She is a fantastic cook. I didn't get this physique from suffering through poorly prepared meals, that's for sure. She's sharing what she does with what Sherman left behind. Oh, and you'll see her mention potlikker. For any foreigners, scalawags, or reconstructed Southerners, potlikker is the fantastic and incredibly healthy liquid that remains in the bottom of the pot after the greens are done. Click on her use of the word to get further info from a regional authority on the subject. Enjoy.
All Southern ladies know that there are just certain things one must learn to do and do well. And most of those involve the kitchen. Since I was a young girl I always knew that I'd be making biscuits, dressing (not stuffing), and of course the New Year's Day meal of black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread. This "triad" as it is often called in Southern circles is more like a holy trinity in my neck of the woods. My husband never asks if I'm going to fix this meal, he just expects it. Now, don't think he does this in a degrading or inappropriate manner. He doesn't. He is about the most gentlemanly man I know...but I digress.
My sweet husband asked me to share my recipes here with all of you. I consider that high praise indeed for my humble offerings in our kitchen. So, if you are inclined to read on, you will find recipes for our entire New Year's Day meal and the sources of those recipes.
Black-eyed Peas & Hog Jowl (yes, hog jowl)
The source of this recipe is none other than the "Bible" of Southern cooking in our state, The Taste of Georgia Cookbook. My copy has been passed down through two generations and is well-worn, stained, and missing front and back covers. That makes it about the best cookbook ever. And underneath the title of the recipe, it says, "A New Year's Day MUST!"
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
About 1/4 pound of hog jowl, or streak o'lean boiling meat
Soak peas overnight; drain and sort. Slice jowl or boiling meat to the skin, leaving it in one piece, but allowing slices to season well. Put into water and bring to boil. Add peas. Return to a boil; simmer for about 1-1.5 hours or until peas are tender. Add more water if necessary. Yields 4 servings.
Southern-Style Collard Greens
The source of this recipe is memory. I have no recipe written down or in a recipe book that I can find. This is just something I've witnessed my Georgian mother (and Georgian grandmother before her) make every year of my life.
1-2 large bunches/bundles of collard greens (or turnip greens / or mustard greens)
1 large boiling pot
1 large tablespoon of bacon drippings (or 1 ham bone)
32 oz. carton of chicken stock (or homemade stock if you've got it)
onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, sugar to taste (sorry, no measurements)
Wash and drain greens VERY well to remove any silt or dirt. Roughly chop the greens and place in a large boiling pot with bacon drippings, stock, and seasonings. Add water until pot is 2/3s full and bring to a hard, rolling boil. Boil for about 20 minutes and then reduce to a slow boil for 2 hours. Add water or stock as needed. A splash of apple cider vinegar or green hot pepper sauce is appropriate at the finish. And don't forget to save a few uncooked collard leaves to tack to your ceiling or hang over your front door to ward off evil spirits!
The source of this recipe is The Taste of Georgia Cookbook. I rarely use the recipe because as most Southern cooks, I have memorized and somewhat altered the recipe over time. I wanted to provide the accurate/original here, but I will share my secrets at the end.
1.5 cups corn meal
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons bacon drippings (or shortening), melted
Sift together dry ingredients; add buttermilk, egg, and drippings, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into a greased, hot 10-inch oven-proof skillet. Bake in preheated hot oven of 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with butter. Yields 10-12 servings.
Now for my secrets: I always place my bacon drippings in my cast iron skillet and melt in the oven while it is preheating and I'm mixing all the other ingredients. Then, I pour the melted bacon drippings right into the batter and stir quickly before returning to the hot skillet. This process greases the pan, completes the batter, and seasons my skillet all in one step. I also agree with the original recipe that cornbread should be served warm, but not with butter....on New Year's Day you use it to sop up all your potlikker from the greens!
So there you have it. I'm serving the holy trinity with a brown-sugar baked ham this year and I've just pulled a Jefferson Davis pie out of the oven that I will serve with a Bourbon Whipped Cream for dessert. Won't my husband be beside himself?! I'm pretty excited too. Happy New Year!
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire