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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Making New Year's Day big food holiday

It’s time to bring out all those traditional New Year’s Day dishes. The centerpiece of my table is always a ham. It represents prosperity because pigs root forward. The glaze I will be using this year is a Root Beer Glaze. Root Beer has been my favorite beverage since I was a child. Since cabbage is said to represent folded money, my version of Creole Cabbage will also grace my companies plates.

What would New Year’s Day be without black-eyed peas. They are said to represent coins or wealth. For this year, it’s time to whip up a pot of my Black-Eyed Pea Jambalaya. Jambalaya has always been one of my favorite dishes to make and eat. I think you’ll find that this version will satisfy all ages. Since these dishes aren’t going to cook themselves, Let’s head to the kitchen!

Root Beer-Glazed Ham


24 ounces root beer

1 1/2 tablespoons pepper jelly

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 tablespoons Pickapeppa sauce

6 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

Peel and juice of 1/2 orange

Peel of 1/2 lemon

1 smoked ham, about 8-10 pounds

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

It is best to make the glaze the night before.

Combine all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a simmer, and cook for about a half-hour or until the liquid is reduced to about half. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Place the ham on a rack in a disposable pan. Score the ham in a criss-cross pattern. Spoon enough of the glaze over the ham to completely wet the surface. Combine the brown sugar and mustard and pat it all over the ham. Pour a half a cup of water into the pan. Spoon some of the glaze over the top of the ham at 15-minute intervals until it is all used up. Add more water to the pan when it dries up. Continue baking until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 160℉ on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a half-hour before carving.

Creole Cabbage

5 cups cabbage, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

Creole seasoning to taste

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 325℉.

Cook cabbage in boiling salted water for 10 minutes; drain well and place in a pan. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sauté onions and peppers. Add tomatoes with juice, sugar and Creole Seasoning and simmer for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Black-Eyed Pea Jambalaya

6 sliced bacon, chopped into small pieces

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup celery, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups ham, diced

1/2 pound andouille, sliced

3 cups chicken stock

2 cans (15 ounce cans) black-eyed peas, undrained

2 cups uncooked rice

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1 bay leaf


Over medium heat, put the bacon into the bottom of a Dutch oven and sauté until slightly browned. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery; sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the ham and Andouille and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the broth and the black-eyed peas; bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and green onions. Season with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Add the bay leaf and return to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit covered for another 10 minutes before serving.

While it will never reach the food status of Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter, New Year’s Day is starting to become a big food holiday. I hope that today’s recipes will help you ring in the New Year with some great tasting Southern traditions. My wife, Peggy, and I wish you a very Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year!

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