I’m not normally superstitious. I step on cracks and cool things happen to me on Friday the 13th. But last year was pretty volatile on the home front, so for the first time EVER I made Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day. Figured what the hell, can’t hurt.
And I did it up right. Bought Sea Island Peas from Anson Mills and cooked these meaty gems according to the recipe on the website with a mirepoix of whole carrot, onion, and celery. Added just a touch of curry, one bay leaf, and let the whole thing simmer for a little over an hour in a mixture of chicken and ham stock. Chopped up country ham was added. Stuck some Carolina Gold White Rice from the same wonderful artisans of grain on the side and a main course was born.
Throw in some collards cooked in ham hock, vinegar, and apple cider and some cast iron skillet cornbread with bacon drippings, and our first meal of 2014 was a raging success. The peas were meaty and rich and their gravy soaked into the fluffy rice creating something comforting beyond measure. The sweet acidity of the collard greens, the sweet bacon-y flavor of the cornbread. . .it all added up to heaven on a plate.
What started as an experiment in good luck juju ended up being just a damn good meal. Still, when the Polar Vortex hit, I made more. Because there’s nothing like a little New Year’s Southern Good Luck to ward off icy demons.