New Year's Collards
By Bradley Jean
"Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for Gold."
It is a Southern New Year's tradition to eat these yummies for good luck! My dad has been cooking a New Year's meal for as long as I can remember. He cooks a huge pot of Peas and 'Hot Water Bread', an old, pan fried version of corn bread. Even in college and after I married, I'd trek over to Mom and Dads to get my New Year's fix!
Black eye peas or Purple Hull peas are common. And any 'green' is worthy of fortune. Including Collards, Turnips, Kale and even Cabbage! Collards and Turnips being the most popular. I prefer Collards, they are easier to clean, cut and prep. And I'd say the same thing for Kale. Turnips are grainier and have smaller leaves, making them more time intense to prep. However, they have a delicious bulb that cooks up similar to a potato. I use Turnips more often for soups and stews. And when Farmer is present to help clean them!
Collards, and other greens are highly nutritious. I cook them weekly in the winter, to help ward off illness in our family. They are loaded with Vitamins A and K, more than the daily amount needed, which supports strong bones and sharp eye sight. They are loaded with Vitamin C and Calcium. But, more than any other green, they have the ability to help lower cholesterol. Food experts recommend eating them 2-3 times a week.
Collards are also a versatile food to cook with. My favorites are soups and stews, sauteed with onion a top grits, use as a sandwich wrap or add them into any egg dish. But my favorite is posted below. I big ole' pot full of tasty Collards!
Ingredients: 1-2 bunches fresh collards, 1 large onion, 3/4-1 pound bacon, 2-3 garlic cloves, 1 TB Vinegar, S&P, Olive Oil, 1 TBS Chilli powder, Water
One bunch Collards will feed 3-4 people. Get two bunches to serve more. Grocers now carry greens pre-cut and washed in bags, very handy as well. Treat each grocer bag as a bunch. To prep the bunch, peel leaves off of stem and discard the stem, don't want to cook the stem. Tear or chop all leafy greens. Kids are handy here, as they enjoy the 'tearing'!!
Dice one whole large onion. I put onion in practically everything I cook. Full of flavor and juices.
Cut bacon into bite size pieces.
Turn a large pot on Medium heat, press Garlic into pot and add diced onion and bacon. Let these simmer and cook together about a half hour, stirring often. I also added my Olive Oil about half way through.
When onion is thin and mixture is juicy, fill pot about 3/4 full with Water and add all chopped greens.
NOTE: the longer you cook greens, the better they taste. I plan to stay at home and cook for about 3 hours. most of that time is spent just checking on them and stirring, so its NOT labor intensive. You can easily cook while hanging out with family, doing house chores or playing with kids!
Bring your pot to a rolling boil and then reduce heat slightly to a slow, constant boil.
Add S&P generously, Vinegar and Chilli Powder.
At this point, you will watch, stir and wait.
I taste my greens about every half hour. As time goes on, they get tastier and tastier. Feel free to add more S&P and other spices you like. Have fun and enjoy the process. Let your kids or family taste along the way. One of my favorite things about cooking, is the fellowship.
After 2-3 hours, greens are ready to Enjoy!!
Cornbread is a favorite side, it soaks up all the juices and pairs perfectly!
Prayers for a prosperous New Year to all of You!