Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Traditional Southern New Year's Day Recipes

Ever wonder why Southerners eat certain foods to ring in the new year? Or, what are the traditional foods that make up a Southern New Year's menu and how they came to be? Read on to find out!

I don't know about 'round the rest of the country, but most Southerner's wouldn't dare allow the New Year to pass without eatin' some kind of pork, a big ole mess o' black-eyed peas (or some other form of southern cowpeas) and greens of some kind, often either collard greens, turnip greens, or good ole, basic southern fried cabbage.

It's a tradition, steeped in both superstition and hope for better days ahead that we participate in the first of every year, and important enough that even people who don't particularly care for greens or black-eyed peas - such as The Cajun himself - make sure that they at least have a bite of both of 'em - though to be honest, tradition says it is best to ensure that you get at least 365 peas in your body on New Year's Day just to account for the whole year. Might as well just eat a "mess of 'em" I reckon, just to be on the safe side!

Click on the links within the post below to check out the individual recipes, but be sure to pop over to visit my super list of New Year's Eve party foods too, with appetizers, hangover helpers, brunch items and much, much more to help you ring in the new year, Southern style! Happy New Year y'all!!

Click here for the full range of New Year's Eve & classic New Year's Day recipes!

Southern style collard greens or turnip greens, are pretty traditional greens for New Years. I adore them!

Southern Style Turnip Greens
While I truly do love greens of all kinds, I am also a big fan of cabbage, and the way I love it the most is simply the stewed version we southerners call fried cabbage.

Sometimes I like to combine it with some corned beef for New Year's, and I have a corned beef and cabbage hash with potatoes, that is pretty darned good too!

Another cabbage favorite is this chopped cabbage, smothered down with the trinity of vegetables, ground sausage and tomatoes. I prefer using a nicely seasoned breakfast sausage, like Jimmy Dean or Tennessee Pride, although a good Italian sausage or bratwurst will work nicely too. Just don't use a plain raw ground pork unless you bump up the seasonings. The most important thing about this dish is don't drain off the fat. Most pork sausage is pretty lean these days and you'll want the little bit of fat that you do get to season the cabbage.

Smothered Cabbage with Sausage and Tomato
The New Year meal should include some kinda pig too - a full out pork roast, or just the addition of hog jowls, fatback, ham hocks, bacon or some ham chunks and a ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner, or for some, some ribs. More often, it's a combination of several of those. Pork has always been king in The South and is a big part of our lives. If you owned a pig, that one pig could feed your family for pretty much the entire new year and believe you me, we Southerners used every single inch of that pig.
Smothered Pork Roast
Pork roast, slow cooked in the crockpot and simply seasoned with garlic salt, freshly cracked black pepper, Cajun seasoning, thyme and sage and topped with cream of mushroom soup, is a delicious option too!

For New Year's Day, pork represents health and wealth, and continued prosperity. Some say also that a pig also represents progress - and, since pigs pretty much can't just look backward without completely turning around, a pig represents forward progress. Some folks just do ribs, a roast, or pork chops or even pulled pork, but you can bet that Down South, pig is gonna show up in some form.

Pork Roast with Spicy Onion Pan Sauce
Another delicious option for your New Year's greens would be this traditional Green Gumbo called Gumbo Z'herbes, a flavorful gumbo of greens. Gumbo Z'herbes is a traditional green gumbo made with multiple greens, a wide variety of meats and traditionally served on Holy Thursday before Easter. Sometimes it is prepared meatless to be served during Lent.

Gumbo Z'herbes
I also know that in many areas of The South they like to eat black-eyed peas in the form of a dish called Hoppin' John. Well, down here, we pretty much just call that Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya.

Deep South Hoppin' John - Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya
Gotta say, that's some pretty good Hoppin' John there for sure, but I still like my black-eyed peas spooned over hot, steaming rice the most I think.

Southern Style Black-eyed Peas
The tradition of black-eyed peas for Southerners is believed to have originated back during Civil War times when Sherman's soldiers raided Southern homes, taking virtually all of the food and burning the crops, but mostly ignoring the fields of black-eyed peas, because they thought them to be food for the livestock and of no value otherwise. As one of the few food sources left to sustain the people and the southern soldiers, those black-eyed peas came to represent good fortune. Makes sense to me! Want a different but delicious way to get both your black-eyed peas and greens? Try this Greens and Black-eyed Pea Soup!

Greens and Black-eyed Pea Soup
The black-eyed peas represent coins - in fact, used to be that a dime would be hidden in the pot for somebody to find that was said to bring them much luck with money in the coming year. I wouldn't advise doing that these days though. The greens are present, representing paper money and cornbread, in some form, almost always served alongside, represents gold.

Southern Skillet Cornbread
In The South, this combination of foods, when eaten all together, represents financial prosperity, good luck and good health in the coming new year for those who consume them on New Years Day, so we pretty much just make a meal of the combo for the whole day - just for insurance, ya know! In the United States, ball dropping is always a part of the festivities counting down toward the last seconds of the new year. If you live in the south, that's liable to be a moon pie drop.

Of course there are fireworks, sometimes parades and certainly champagne is a favorite for toasting. In Spain there is a tradition to consume 12 grapes at midnight, the sweetness of each grape to indicate what each month of the new year will bring to you. I like this! Just toss the grapes into the glass when you pass out the bubbly (or sparkling cider for the kids and non-drinkers) and at midnight everybody toasts to the new year and then eats the grapes, one on each stroke of the clock. This tradition has been picked up in the United States especially around Texas and the southwest.

Click right here for the full listing of New Year's Eve appetizers, party foods, New Year's Day Brunch items, including those ever handy hangover helpers, and of course, all the traditional New Year's Day goodies, we all love.

What traditions do you have for bringing in the new year?
Posted by on December 30, 2009
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  1. You better believe there will be blackeyed peas and rice a cookin' in this kitchen!!

  2. What a great roundup of delicious options for the New Years menu!!

  3. Thanks for the history of why we eat what we do! Happy New Year!

  4. That's an impressive roundup...

    Black eyed peas used to be a tradition from my Grandmother... 45 years ago

  5. I am so glad that you won at Our Krazy Kitchen so I could find your blog. I love it.

    I discovered Southern cooking, a few months ago and since then, I have been finding recipes with a southern flair. I have no doubt that they are not necessarily real southern dishes but I am introducing the family to some new foods.

    You, I am sure, will have some wonderful foods, for us, right here.

  6. At the Dysfunctional House, we have black eyed pea DIP for New Year's. It is SOOO good!

  7. Happy New Year! I know it's early. I hope that I'm up when the ball drops. I have this darn flu. If I'm better by New Year's Day I'll probably do pork chops with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. It changes from year to year, but there's always pork and cabbage in some form. I love all of your menu ideas. I'll have to give the black eyed peas a try one of these days.

  8. Oh man, do I have to??? LOL!

    Happy New Year and thank you for visiting on my special SITS day!!

  9. A big ole Southern HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours Mary!

  10. Can't go wrong with black eyed peas!

  11. your blog!
    So much good stuff to take in!

    So sorry for the delay in coming to say hello. Thank you so much for swinging by my blog on Monday for my SITS day. And YES I seriously made over 450 cookies. 10 different kinds...(I usually do 11 kinds...and seriously missed out on my candy cane twists this year!!)

    Hope you have a very happy new year! I'll be back for sure!


  12. Such great New Years food facts :) Happy New Year to you, Mary!

  13. Yep, we had ours! A big crock pot of black eyed peas with ham hocks and a pot of greens. I actually ate a small bowl of the beans for breakfast yesterday morning (for quality control purposes, of course).

  14. Happy New Year Mary and to the Cajun...very interesting about the greens and beans...but oh man these look good...are you sure you don't need a test taster....I would be a good one...I may not fit through the door....but I'd be a good one...hee hee

  15. This is the very best REAL Southern cooking site on the internet!! I love the recipes and the blog. You are the greatest and thank you from the bottom of this Southern girl's heart. Are you going to do a cookbook? Put me down for the first one off the press!! Bless you and your family and I hope your New Year is the best one yet!!

  16. That is so sweet - thank you so much Sally!! When I set out to do this website, I wanted a place to plant some of the old lost classic recipes that seem to be disappearing, but also to contribute some good country cooking. I hope that I have accomplished that! I never planned to do a cookbook, but the readers here keep asking for one so I do hope that I can put one together soon for that one reason. I really appreciate you visiting and especially for taking the time to stop and comment. Happy New Year!!

  17. First of all, Mary, yours is my absolute favorite Southern blog. All of your recipes are authentic, tried, and true. The way you season your food, is just the way that I do it!!

    I don't think I can recall a New Year's Day when I didn't eat black-eye peas. I've got some in the slowcooker with a meaty ham bone right now!! I'll have some collards, roast some spareribs with a nice hot and sweet dry rub, mix a little potato salad and have some rice for my peas. Of course, cornbread is a given!!

    I pray a very happy and prosperous New Year for you and your family, and for all of those who love your blog as much as I do.

    God Bless..

  18. Toni, I don't know why, but your comment brought a little tear to my eyes just now! I put my heart into my cooking so thank you so much. As I sit here I am so full - even though there's really only the two of us now, like you I gotta have the whole nine on New Years - blackeyed peas and rice, collards, corned beef and cabbage, and some kind of pork - today it was a pretty simple pork roast. Oh, and I decided to do some cornsticks this time! We have loads of leftovers of course & I am so full and looking forward to a wonderful 2012! Toni, thanks so much for taking the time to leave me such a sweet comment, God bless & Happy New Year to you too!

  19. We always make black-eyed pea and spinach pizza... guaranteed to get both greens and peas in the kiddos on New Years!

  20. I have to say that the Hoppin John Jambalaya is the best! Thanks for the recipe. My husband made it yesteday and we had to taste it. It will definitely be our new New Years Day tradition. We will also make it again and sub cubed chicken. This is a way that those who don't care for just black eyes can enjoy them.

  21. Always had ham, scalloped potatoes, black eyed peas, and chocolate meringue pie. We couldn't eat any of our pie until we ate our spoonful of black eyed peas. I can honestly say I gagged my way through those things to get at the pie. Now we have Texas Caviar for New Years and I can eat my black eyed peas happily!

    1. So funny that some folks have that reaction to blackeyed peas! I find that so odd since I truly do love them and I can't help but think it really has to be in the way that they are prepared.

  22. This is the first time I am making a southern meal for new years for my son/daughterinlaw/kids and all the rest of the southern clan. I am a Yankee and have never attempted true southern style cooking BUT after reading your receipts I have decided on Black eyed peas, Southern pork chops/rice, Cornbread, browned butter green beans & to top it off Pusharatas. I think I could be winning some brownie points here...

  23. Oh thank goodness I found your site again! My hard drive died last January 2017 and I lost my Recipes file.....Linda B.

    1. Hi Linda! I'm so glad you found your way back but sorry to hear about the hard drive. I had a crash a few years ago & lost a bunch of my photos for the blog so I know how awful that is. Long as I'm still around this world, I'll be here for you. Welcome back!


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