It's New Year's Day, and you probably got home from your raucous New Year's Eve festivities only hours before the sun rose. You're jarred awake by the sound of your phone ringing. It's your nearest and dearest family member calling to remind you to eat your cabbage and black-eye peas today, lest you encounter an entire year of bad luck. Begrudgingly, probably hungover'dly, you set forth to find a kind restaurant or watering hole that might be serving it up. It's a difficult tradition, but one that you feel you must participate in just in, case the curse of bad luck is true.
This year, you may want to think ahead and have some of it in the refrigerator, so you don't have to make this painful journey. You don't just have to have it the traditional way; as long as you eat the main, luck-donning ingredients, you're in the clear.
A typical traditional method to make a New Year's stew involves soaking one pound of dried black-eyed peas in water overnight. When you're ready to cook, sauté a cup of chopped onion and two or three cloves of minced garlic in two tablespoons of butter or the oil of your choice until the onions become translucent. Drain the black-eyed peas and add them to the pot with enough water to cover them. Also, add one head of roughly chopped cabbage and one pound of chopped smoked ham or a whole ham bone. Season it with a couple of bay leaves and the herbs of your choice and bring it a boil. Simmer the pot until the black-eyed peas are tender. Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste. If you used a ham bone, remove it from the pot before serving it over rice. You can also throw all of the ingredients into a crock pot and cook it on low for up to eight hours.
If stew isn't your favorite thing, consider cutting down your cooking time and buying canned black-eyed peas (Trappey's Jalapeno Blackeye Peas is an excellent choice). You can make your cabbage into something like a coleslaw. Better yet, roast it with olive oil or boil it with spices and veggies. Most of my family members are heavily involved in the annual making of the New Year's meal, and they've put their own spins on it over the years.
If you want to dazzle the eyes as well as the palette, consider making black-eyed pea and cabbage crostini. In a large pot, sauté one chopped onion and a couple of minced garlic cloves in oil until the onions soften. Add one pound of soaked black-eyed peas (or two cans of ready-to-eat black-eyed peas), one head of finely chopped or slivered cabbage, meat such as chopped cooked bacon or ham, two quarts of stock or broth, and two bay leaves. Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer partially covered for one hour. Season the stew with your favorite herbs and spices after removing it from heat and letting it cool. As the stew is cooling, toast the lightly-oiled crostini slices in a 350-degree oven for eight minutes. When the bread is done, top the slices with the pea and cabbage mix using a slotted spoon to drain the juices. You can garnish the crostini with grated cheese.
Of course, you could take your chances on your luck for 2020 by not consuming any black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year's Day, but do you really want to risk it?
My cousin Catherine Harrell's Cajun-style cabbage.
Cut cabbage into wedges, place on a pan or baking sheet with a lip
Cover with melted butter or olive oil
Sprinkle with salt and pepper or Tony Chachere's
Roast at 350 degrees until fork tender, or microwave it on microwave-safe plate until just barely tender
Cut cabbage into 1-inch squares
Put into a large pot and cover with water
Add 1 cup chopped onion, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1 lb. chopped ham or whole ham bone
Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer
Cook until desired tenderness
Salt and pepper or Tony Chachere's to taste
Roasted cabbage steaks with black-eyed pea topping.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Cover your baking sheet with aluminum foil and brushwith a healthy amount of olive oil
Cut one head of cabbage into 1-inch thick steaks
Brush each side with olive oil before seasoning them with salt and pepper
Place them on the oiled baking sheet in a single layer
Roast the steaks until the edges of the steaks are golden, about 40 to 45 minutes
While the cabbage steaks are cooking, cook your black-eyed peas on the stove with your choice of chopped veggies, herbs, and/or meat-like chopped bacon.
When the steaks are finished, ladle the black-eyed pea mixture onto the cabbage steaks and enjoy.