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Growing up, my family wasn’t much for traditions – and they definitely weren’t superstitious.
All of that changed, though, on January first of every year when the world stopped so we could eat black-eyed peas.
They are supposed to give you good luck for the entire year and I always figured that it was worth a shot. Even if the rumor isn’t true, at least you’ll get a good meal out of the deal!
A lot of black-eyed pea recipes involve a big pot of soup or stew, but I like to split up the ingredients a bit. My Good Luck Bowls feature black-eyed peas (of course) along with braised pork chops and collard greens. It’s perfect for a cold New Year’s Day meal.
Black-eyed peas are actually a legume, like beans, which means they are best cooked by soaking them overnight in cold water. Before you soak them, be sure to look through them and check for small pebbles. Sometimes there will be some dirt or pebble in with the peas – that’s just not a good way to start the New Year!
Most black-eyed peas will have a quick soak method on the package if you didn’t plan ahead.
Once they are soaked, just cook them in simmering water with a few bay leaves until they are tender. They should take about 30 minutes to cook.
The rest of the meal comes together in one large pot. But before we get to that step, we need to deal with the collard greens. I like these because they are traditional but you could definitely use any kind of chard or kale as well.
Just roughly chop up your greens and blanch them in boiling water for about 60 seconds. Then drain them and set them aside while you prep the rest of the meal.
Pork and black-eyed peas are very complimentary flavors. Traditionally, you simmer the black-eyed peas with a ham hock or something, but I like to use a few large chops to serve with my bowls.
Just season them well with salt and pepper.
In a large pan that’s oven-safe add the olive oil over medium-high heat. Then add the chops and sear them well on both sides for about four minutes.
At this point the chops are still basically raw on the inside, but that’s okay. We’ll finish cooking them later.
Pull them out of the pan and add in the onions. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the onions until they start to soften, about a minute. Then add the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Use the liquid to scrape up any bits that are stuck to the pan. Season the pan with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Let that simmer or a minute and then add in the blanched collard greens. Finally, nestle the chops back into the dish.
Bake this dish, uncovered, for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. This should be enough time for the pork to finish cooking and also give a chance for all the other flavors to meld.
After braising the dish in the oven, remove the chops and let them rest for a minute or two before slicing them up!
When you’re ready to serve, spoon in some black-eyed peas in each bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid from the peas and then top the dish with some collard greens, a few strips of pork, and some chopped scallions.
I’m not sure if I believe in good luck, but I’ll take any excuse to eat this meal!
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Nick wishes all you Tablespoon fans a very happy 2013! Be sure to check out his blog, Macheesmo, and follow him on his Tablespoon Profile.