• Tommy Centola

Dinner ideas for the New Year

I am often asked how do I come up with my recipes. Every now and then, an original idea will come to me. More often, I expand on a recipe that I have seen. I have a large collection of cookbooks in my office. To keep current, I also subscribe to a couple of magazines. My favorite is Louisiana Kitchen and Culture.

Louisiana Kitchen and Culture magazine is published by a friend of mine, Susan Ford. I first met Susan, a Mississippi native, went she published my Crab Cake recipe in another magazine. In 2011, she formed Our Kitchen & Culture, LCC and launched Louisiana Recipes, a weekly free email newsletter and website, louisiana.kitchenandculture.com. In April 2012, she published the first edition of her magazine, Louisiana Kitchen and Culture. I have had the pleasure of having some of my recipes featured in her magazine and on her newsletters and website.

She is also an accomplished cook, developing and testing the recipes that appear in her magazine. This week, I am sharing two of her recipes from her November/December 2018 magazine. These recipes are two traditional New Year’s Day foods. Smothered Collard Greens with Ham and Black-Eyed Peas.

Here is Susan’s take on a Southern classic. Collards are a fall crop and are so readily available. They are said to represent folding money. They are high in nutritional value, contributing to our good health. Green is also a color symbolic of hope and growth.

Smothered Collard Greens with Ham

1 small Ham Bone

1 (32 ounce) container unsalted Chicken Broth

Water

2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 large Onion, finely chopped

1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

3 cloves Garlic, minced

2 cups chopped smoked Ham

2 pounds fresh Collard Greens, washed and trimmed

2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Hot Sauce

Combine ham bone, broth and 2 cups of water in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes or until liquid has reduced by half to 3 cups. Strain.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add ham; sauté 3 minutes. Add collard greens, ham broth, vinegar, salt, and hot sauce; bring to a boil, cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring often and adding water as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Here is Susan’s take on this traditional New Year’s Day dish. She writes, “Black-Eyed Peas are said to resemble coins, and swell up when cooked, representing growth, plenty and prosperity.”

Black-Eyed Peas

2 pounds dried Black-Eyed Peas

Water, as needed

2 large Onions, finely chopped

1 large Bell Pepper, finely chopped

2 ribs Celery, finely chopped

1 bunch Green Onions, sliced

3 cloves Garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds smoked or baked Ham, diced

1 Ham Bone

1 teaspoon Salt (optional)

1 teaspoon dried Basil

1 teaspoon dried Thyme

1 teaspoon dried Marjoram

1/8 teaspoon Mace

2 large Bay Leaves

Black Pepper and Cayenne Pepper

1/2 cup finely minced Parsley (optional)

Hot Cooked Rice

Sort and wash peas. Place in a large Dutch oven and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak 8 hours; drain. Return peas to Dutch oven. Add onions, bell pepper, celery, green onions, garlic, ham, ham bone, salt, basil, thyme, marjoram, mace, and bay leaves. Add water to cover by 1 inch; stir well. Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Taste; adjust seasoning with black pepper and cayenne. Simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, stirring often and adding water as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Simmer an additional 30 minutes or until the peas are tender and the liquid has thickened. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

If you are looking for a great collection of Louisiana recipes, visit her website or pick up a copy of her magazine. You may recognize the name of one of the contributors.

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