January 1 isn't really my new year (which we Jews celebrate in early fall) but I like to make this southern standard for the other new year's day. I do have a touch of Southern blood and I love a good tradition. While I don't really expect "Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold" I figure it can't hurt, especially being a dish that packs in a whole heck of a lot of nutrients in one tasty bowl.
I have a little confession to make: I actually found a genuine secret ingredient which made this year's version extra fantastic. Our local natural foods market had a tray of truly ugly,blackened smoked turkey legs tucked in the corner of the meat cooler and, after a discussion with the butcher lady, I realized these hideous things might work magic in my hoppin' john -- plus it was fun to tell the kids I'd bought a smoked orc leg.
While my kashrut leaves much to be desired, we don't eat pork and I think that smoky, salty taste was missing from my ham hock-less beans all these years. I tossed that leg in my slow cooker yesterday with soaked black-eyed peas, some long simmered chicken broth, and a skillet full of sauteed bell peppers, celery, onion, and garlic and let it simmer all day. When I reheated it today, I shredded the turkey meat off the bone and into the stew, added a thinly sliced bunch of collard greens, and served it over brown rice with a side of gluten free corn bread. It was mild enough for the kids but I had a big bottle of my beloved Crystal hot sauce at hand and everyone was happy.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. The recipe is here.
Our hoppin' john may not bring us wealth, but I don't think I spent more than $5 (smoked turkey leg included) on the whole big pot so I figure we are most definitely starting the new year off right. Here's to 2011--may we all be healthy and happy!