The Story Behind Lucky New Year's Recipes

The Origin of Black Eyed Peas, as told by Anne

Black eyed peas came to the South from West Africa. In some areas it was just used for livestock, but in New Orleans it was a staple. Peas are extremely nutritious.

In New Orleans we celebrate over New Years Day meal by including black-eyed peas and some kind of greens (mustard, collard, turnip). The meaning of this custom goes back to the Civil War.

When General Sherman began his march to the sea in November 1864, the troops went through the farm fields, taking whatever they could - food & livestock. But for some reason they didn't touch the black-eyed peas. After they left all that was left for the people to eat were the black-eyed peas. They survived on them for a long time and celebrated (as much as they could) with the peas and whatever greens they could salvage. If there was any corn left they made cornbread.

So, theses three items have come to represent hope and prosperity for the New Year. The peas represent coins, the greens - paper money and the cornbread, gold.

Camellia’s Black Eyed Peas

1 pound peas

8 cups water

1-2 bay leaves

1 tbl ham base

Meat - 4 oz tasso, 8 oz pickled pork, 1 1/2 pound smoked ham, shank

2 tbl bacon drippings or lard

1 lg onion finely chopped

1/2 bell pepper (red or green) finely chopped

3 tbl Joe’s stuff (or to taste)

4 garlic, finely chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1/2 stick butter

4 tbl lard

1. Rinse and sort peas. Place in a coupe pot and cover with water. Soak overnight
2. Next morning place pot over high fire. Add bay leaves and ham base. Add meats and boil for 10 minutes. Lower fire to medium high.
3. Meanwhile, melt the bacon drippings or lard in a skillet and sauce the onions and peppers on medium high for 5 minutes. 4. 4. Then, add the Joe’s Stuff (you’re going to be roasting the seasonings). Continue sautéing until the onions have caramalized. 5. Then add the garlic - cook 2 minutes longer.
6. Add the sautéed vegetables to the peas. Deglaze the skillet with a little water and add to pot.
7. When peas are cooked about 1.5 hours they should be creamy. Add the parsley. Taste to see if additional seasoning is needed. I always add 1/2 stick of butter and 4 tel lard for an even creamy texture at the very end.
8. Serve over rice

Collard Greens

Bunch of collard greens

4 cups water

1/2 tbl ham base

Seasoning meats - 4 oz tasso, 1 pound smoked ham shank

1 bay leaf

2 tbl bacon dripping sor lard

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1/2 bell pepper (red or green) finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 tbl Joe’s Stuff (or to taste)

  1. Remove stems from greens and strip the leaves off the inner stem. Roughly chop.
  2. Place water, ham base, greens and meat in a small soup pot. Bring to a boil on a high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a skillet on a medium high heat, melt lard or bacon drippings. Salute onions and bell pepper for about 5 minutes. Then add Joe’s Stuff (you’re roasting the seasonings). Continue sautéing for another 5 minutes then add garlic, cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Add seasoning and vegetables to the pot. Deglaze the skillet and add to pot. Reduce to medium heat so that it bubbles a little.
  5. Cook about 1 - 1.5 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. When serving use a slotted spoon to plate.

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