Coast Cooking

Consider greens, grits and black-eyed peas for a New Year’s Day brunch

Black-eyed peas and greens are traditional New Year’s Day foods throught to bring wealth and good luck, so why not partake? Perhaps you’ve had bad experiences with these old-school Southern foods and don’t like them.

If you know a few tricks, any cook can make greens of any sort and almost any pea or bean delicious.

At the heart of both recipes is a good stock.

No, don’t think about the can or carton that you can buy at the grocery story, a good one has got to be homemade.

A good stock shouldn’t take more than an hour of simmering, but that doesn’t mean you have to be there the entire time, just walk by every once in a while and give it a stir.

The actual chopping and cooking part doesn’t take long either, and because you are going to strain it before use, you don’t even have to peal those onions, or carrots. A whole head of garlic is ready to go in the pot after chopping in two. Throw it in skin and all!

Do you think greens and peas can only be prepared in the way your grandmother made them? Don’t be silly!

These two simple veggies can be made as exciting as you want to make them.

Try these recipes and tell me what you think.

Happy New Year!

Grits and Greens

1 cup grits

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup cream

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 pinch red pepper flakes

Combine the stock and cream, and bring to a low simmer, whisk in the grits and the red pepper flakes, and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and reason as necessary, add the cheese and finish cooking. Pour into muffin molds and allow to become firm.

Greens

1-2 bunches greens

3-4 strips smoky bacon

Optional: chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper

1 cups ham or chicken stock (homemade please)

1 local craft beer

Salt and pepper

Stem the greens, and wash thoroughly. Fry the bacon until crisp, remove, crumble and set aside. Add the chopped pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, now combine the stock and beer in the same pot, bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Season aggressively. Add the greens a handful at a time and cook until just tender, 10-12 minutes.

Plate the grit cakes and top with the greens. A good tomato relish or chow chow is a great condiment.

Black Eyed Peas and Chow-Chow

1-2 cups black eyed peas

2-3 cups ham stock

½ cup sausage or ham

Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Sauté the ham or sausage until browned, add the stock and simmer, add the peas and cook until tender. Season as you go.

Chow-Chow

1 large can whole tomatoes

1 chopped yellow onion

1 cup rice vinegar

2/3 cup sugar

1-2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 chopped jalapeno pepper

Combine all the ingredients and simmer until thick. Plate the peas in a bowl and garnish with the chow-chow.

Black Eyed Peas and Olive Salad Bruschetta

1-2 cups cooked black eyed peas (see recipe included in today’s section)

1 cup commercial olive salad

1 loaf French bread

Combine the peas and olive salad, play with the proportions till you get something you like. Thick slice the French bread, butter and toast. Top the toast with the pea mixture and serve at once.

Greens and Cornbread

Use the recipe elsewhere with this story for the greens, but substitute chopped and sautéed ham for the bacon.

You can use a cornbread mix if you must, but it is a much better idea to use a locally ground corn meal to make the cornbread.

Black Eyed Peas and Smoked Sausage

Use the recipe above for the black eyed peas, just substitute 1 cup thickly chopped Conecuh sausage that has been well browned for the bacon or ham. Just make sure to get a good sear on the sausage, take your time and get it right. Add the sausage about half way through the cooking process. Season with red pepper flakes.

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