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Do any of you have any special foods that you eat on New Year’s Day to bring good luck?
We always have pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. I don’t exactly know why. This is just a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Pork and sauerkraut is always the first meal of the year. It’s supposed to bring good luck throughout the year. I have no idea why.
It has been said that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve will bring luck for the coming year. Many families serve Hoppin’ John, which is black-eyed peas cooked with ham hocks or ham cubes (and some spices) and served over rice. I found a similar dish made with grits instead of rice.
Eating cornbread may also bring wealth. And don’t forget the custom of eating greens, such as cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach, which is said to bring the all-mighty green backs your way. Check out my New Year’s Gumbo recipe below.
If you’re going to be staying at home and are expecting guests to pop in, why not have some scrumptious holiday appetizers for everyone to munch on while downing a favorite beverage of choice?
Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Pineapple
Serve these tasty meatballs and pineapple chunks on a platter with toothpicks.
12 oz. pkg. ground sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large can pineapple chunks
Mix sausage, ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce and breadcrumbs in a bowl; blend well. Shape into about 1-1/2-inch balls and bake on a broiler pan at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.
To make the sweet and sour sauce, combine equal amounts of chili sauce and grape jelly. Heat in a large saucepan; add meatballs, mix, and heat through. Add one large can of pineapple chunks, drained, heat until pineapple is hot. Serve immediately.
Sausage and Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms
20 large, fresh mushrooms
8 oz. Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps. finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Wash mushrooms well. Remove stems and finely chop. Remove outer casing from sausage and place in large skillet along with chopped mushroom stems, garlic and one-tablespoon olive oil. Cook over medium heat, breaking up sausage, until browned. Add parsley and Parmesan cheese; mix well.
Fill mushrooms with sausage mixture and put in shallow baking pan. Pour a little water and about a tablespoon of oil into the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes 20 appetizers.
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in heavy syrup
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup maraschino cherry juice
1 cup dark rum
1/2 cup brandy
1 bottle (750 ml) chilled, inexpensive champagne
In a large punch bowl or pitcher, stir pineapple, lemon juice, cherry juice, rum and brandy to blend. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Add champagne just before serving.
Carolina Hoppin’ John
The black-eyed pea is not really a pea, but a legume, and were originally called “cowpeas” and used as cattle feed. They were brought to the West Indies from Africa. By the early 1700s, black-eyed peas were growing prolifically in Georgia.
Ham bone, hog jowl or salt pork
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, washed and soaked overnight
1 cup long grain rice
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot, cover ham bone, hog jowl or salt pork with water and cook for about two hours. Add black-eyed peas and cook until almost tender. Remove meat and add rice; salt and pepper to taste. Boil mixture until rice is tender and liquid has evaporated. Makes 4 servings.
New Year’s Gumbo
The tradition of gumbo and herbs at New Year’s is followed my many Southerners. For each different green included in the gumbo, a new friend will be made in the coming year. Some recipes leave out the meat and use seafood, oysters and/or shrimp instead. Serve gumbo over cooked rice.
1 bunch each of mustard, collard, turnip, beet and spinach greens
1 bunch fresh parsley
3 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup salt, for washing greens
4 qts. water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 large onion, medium diced
2 green bell peppers, medium diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 lbs. ham hocks
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
Thoroughly clean the greens by washing in salt water and then several changes of fresh water. Coarsely chop all the greens and place in stockpot with water. Bring to boil and then simmer for about one hour. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid; set aside.
Place oil in a large pot over high heat for about three minutes; bring to smoking point. Slowly add flour, while whisking all the time. Continue to add and whisk until all flour is added. Cook roux, stirring all the time, until color becomes dark brown.
Add onion, bell peppers and garlic to the roux and stir; add the spices. Add the cooked greens and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and the ham hocks. Bring to boil and then simmer for about one hour or until meat is tender. Remover meat from pot, dice and then return to the pot.
Spoon cooked rice into serving bowls and pour gumbo over it.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at email@example.com.