Appalachian Thursday–A Mountain Girl Cooks Southern
The new year is upon us and there’s probably a significant group out there that’s already given up on new year’s resolutions. I resolved years ago not to make resolutions and have stuck to it admirably.
But we DID celebrate January 1 the way so many folks do–with food.
Now, back in West Virginia, we would have enjoyed pork and cabbage. Or, if you’re eight-years-old, NOT enjoyed it. But since I’m in the South now, I’ve adopted certain Southern ways. Including the new year feast of collard greens and black-eyed peas.
The intent behind both meals is similar–good luck and good fortune. Cabbage and greens represent the money you hope for in the coming year. Black-eyed peas represent coins. Eating pork is a little more complicated. You’re meant to eat pig because they root FORWARD. You should never eat chicken on the first day of the year, since they scratch BACKWARD.
Fortunately, I’ve come to really enjoy the traditional, Southern feast and I do a fair job of cooking it up. If I do say so myself. We enjoyed greens, peas, chow chow, bacon rolled in cornmeal and brown sugar then baked in the oven, cornbread, and sweet potato pie. What wine do you serve with that? Why, sweet tea, of course.
So if you have a hankering for some 2016 collard greens, here’s how I do ’em.
NEW YEAR’S COLLARDS
1 big bunch of collard greens
fatback or thick bacon (3 slices or so)
1 red onion
red pepper flakes
apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
Strip the greens from the tough stems. Roll several leaves together and cut into a rough chiffonade. Chop up some fatback or bacon and render in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Chop onion and add to rendered bacon. Saute until onion begins to soften. Add a lump of brown sugar, a teaspoon or so of pepper flakes, and a splash of cider vinegar. Begin layering in the chopped greens. They probably won’t all fit at first. Let them wilt down, then add more and turn so the new greens are on the bottom. Once you’ve added all the greens, pour in a half a cup or so of chicken stock, put on the lid, and cook low and slow for two hours or more. Stir occasionally, adding more stock if the greens get dry. Serve when meltingly tender.