A New Year’s dip for good luck

By on December 31, 2011

One of our oldest holidays is the celebration of the New Year. The month of January was named for Janus, the Roman god of gates and doors, beginnings and endings, and transitions.

Janus is traditionally represented by two faces looking in opposite directions. One face looks forward, the other looks back, symbolizing a break between the old and new. New Year’s Day is celebrated by remembering the past and hoping for prosperity, health, and luck in the future.

As usual, food is forefront in the celebration of the New Year and certain traditional foods are prepared on New Year’s Day to bring good luck and prosperity. Typically, black-eyed peas are thought to bring good luck for the New Year. Collard greens, looking like a pile of greenbacks, are thought to bring wealth. Corn bread is for good health.

Eager to start the New Year on the best possible footing, many cultures will eat for luck, hoping to gain riches, love, or some type of good fortune in the upcoming year.

For many cultures, ham or pork is considered lucky on New Year’s Day. The reason for the pig being associated with good luck came from Europe. Hundreds of years ago, wild boars were hunted and killed on the first day of the year. Pigs are associated with having plenty to eat and plumpness. Also, pigs use their snouts to dig in a forward direction and perhaps people liked the idea of moving forward in the New Year.

When Europeans settled in America, they brought this tradition with them. Many of the luck-bringing foods are round, like a coin, or ring-shaped, symbolizing coming full circle and completing the old year. Black-eyed peas are an example of this. In the South, Hoppin’ John is a favorite New Year’s Day meal, made with black eyed peas, hog jowls or salt pork, and rice.

Now, if you want a simple recipe for making a heap o’ greens, I can direct you to my blog post about cooking greens. And if you want to make a black eyed pea salad, then look no further. These are your usual recipes for collards and black eyed peas. I wanted something different this year so I’m combining Southern Comfort with Tex-Mex and making a Black Eyed Pea and Collards Dip.

For the step by steps, please check out New Year’s Day Good Luck Dip.

New Year’s Day Good Luck Dip
1 cup cooked black eyed peas
1 cup collard greens, cooked and chopped
8 oz. sausage along with about 2 oz. chorizo, cooked
2-3 TB red wine
3 jalapeños, roasted and minced
½ onion, chopped
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
¼ cup of heavy cream
lime juice

Rinse beans, add to salted water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer, skimming any scum that forms on the top. After about 20 minutes, rinse beans, refresh water, and cook until tender. Check in 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse beans.

Rinse collards and put in a pot with about ½ inch of water and a piece or two of salt pork. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and barely simmer until tender. Check in an hour. Cool and mince.

Fry the sausage in an oven-proof skillet, breaking into small bits. Add in chopped onion and cook until sausage is done. Drain off excess grease. Turn heat to high and add red wine to deglaze the pan. Remove from heat. Deglazing means adding a liquid to the pan after you’ve cooked a meat so as to release all the goody bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. It adds extra flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

Slice jalapeños in half and remove ribs and seeds. The heat is in the ribs and seeds, so if you like it hot, keep them in. Stick skewers through the peppers and roast over a flame to char, or you can put them under a broiler, skin side up. Cool, then mince.

Heat oven to 375°. Stir the black eyed peas, collards, and jalapeños into the sausage. Top evenly with the cubed cream cheese and grated Monterey Jack. Pour the heavy cream over top and bake, uncovered, 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling.

Stir in a little lime juice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

Herbal, earthy, smoky, spicy, and savory flavors welcome the New Year and hopefully usher in prosperity, health, and good luck.

I wish a Happy New Year to you all.

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