New Year’s Eve was always a big celebration when I was growing up. My set of honorary parents hosted a huge party every year at their house way out in the sticks. There where at least 100 people there with all of their kids and teenagers tagging along. Everyone would come with their signature dish and a 6-pack of beer in their hand. It was always the same group of people. The ones we would party with during the summer at the bi-weekly volleyball parties or at the annual Halloween bash, but the New Year’s Eve party was the season closer, the grand finale, the best party of the year.
The party would change a little every year. You may see some new people, or miss some old faces, but there was always laughter, there was always dancing, everyone always sang Auld Lang Syne, and everybody ate black eye peas. There was always an enormous pot on the stove. The black enamel stockpot variety that must have held enough black-eye peas for the whole county. And somewhere in that vast cauldron was a dime. A single dime. A dime that would bring the person who was fortunate enough to scoop up the coin good luck for the whole year. Every year I ate as many black-eye peas as I could, carefully chewing each bite, hoping to find that shiny coin stuck between my teeth. It never did happen in all those years. The luck was passed on to someone else.
How to Cook Dried Black Eye Peas
Some folks are intimidated by cooking dried beans or peas, but honestly there’s nothing to it. It’s exactly like cooking our Southern Ham and White Beans.
First you start by either soaking the peas overnight in cold water or doing the quick soak method. The quick soak method is done by simply covering the peas in a large pot with water and bringing to a boil. Then boil for 2 minutes, cover with a heavy lid and remove from the heat. Then let them sit and soak just like that for 2 hours. Drain and continue on with your recipe. Easy peasy.
What’s the Deal with the Dime?
Traditional Southern black eye peas are served with a dime in the pot. THe person who scoops the dime into their bowl of peas will have good fortune all year.
Actually, the whole tradition is for good fortune all year. The peas represent coins. Serve these peas up with some collard greens and cornbread and you’ve got green for money and gold for..well…gold. It can’t hurt, right?
What the Heck is a Smoked Pork Knuckle?
A smoked pork knuckle is just what it sounds like. It’s the smoked joint of a pig. It’s like a giant piece of smoked bacon or country ham. In fact, if you can’t find a smoked pork knuckle any ol’ smoked meat will do. Smoked turkey legs are pretty good here or that leftover ham bone.
What to do with leftover black eye peas?
- 1 bag of dry black eye peas
- 1 T oil or bacon fat
- 1 onion diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 1 smoked pork knuckle
- 1 quart chicken stock
- water to cover if needed
- Soak peas overnight or use the quick soak method. Drain.
- In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat and saute onions, garlic and celery until onion is transparent. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, peas and pork knuckle, Pour in the chicken stock. Add water to cover if needed.
- Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until peas are soft and tender. 2-3 hours.
- Remove the knuckle and shred any meat off of it. Return that to the pot.Drop a dime in the pot for good luck and serve to all of your friends and family on New Year’s Day.