Now that Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are out the way, it’s time to start thinking about the next gut-busting gathering. This New Year’s Day, why not turn to the Southern States for inspiration?
Many of the foods listed here are New Year traditions thought to bring luck for the year ahead. More importantly, however, they’re delicious as all hell and will leave you full as a tick.
Beautiful golden cornbread is a staple of any Southern feast, alongside blacked-eyed peas and greens. It’s perfect with barbeque ribs or gumbo, but there is certainly no shortage of other things to be serving it with.
Unlike Northern (or Yankee) cornbread, the Southern-style is sweeter, richer and more cakelike. Simply Recipes has a terrific recipe from Elise Bauer here that recommends using bacon drippings as well as the usual butter. It’s not just for flavour but will help to brown the crust and make it easier to remove whole from your skillet. And if you’re making cornbread the star of the meal, why not go that extra mile and throw some chopped jalapeños in there too?
Fried Black Eyed Peas
Peas and beans are a symbol of wealth in the South, although not because of their cost – as the phrase “it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans” shows. In the Civil War era, beans supposedly kept many a family from starving. To have beans was to be among the lucky ones.
Donya at A Southern Soul shows you how to cook fried black-eyed peas in their purest form here. Try flavouring yours with diced pork or chopped sausage, mixing them with lentils or other beans, or just stick to the recipe and keep them a simple side for your meat.
Can’t get enough black-eyed peas? Also known as Carolina peas and rice, Hoppin’ John is a Southern New Years’ classic. It’s an easy but delicious peas and rice dish made with chopped onion and sliced bacon, but you can also use ham hock, fatback, country sausage, or smoked turkey.
Click here for our favourite Hoppin’ John recipe with both ham hock and bacon. It’s perfect for putting your Dutch oven to use, but you can also just use a large pan if you don’t have one.
Balsamic Brown Sugar Pork Roast
In some cultures, pork is considered a sign of prosperity. It’s no different in the South. Attend any Southern New Year’s Day and you're guaranteed to be presented with plenty of pork or ham. Consciously or not, it’s a way to set the New Year off on the right foot – or trotter.
Of course, it’s well-known that pork is best cooked slowly, so slow your roll and try your hand at the crock-pot brown sugar and balsamic-glazed pork tenderloin recipe over at Food 52. It’s apparently their most popular recipe of all time and is so good you could serve it with pretty much anything.
Greens are another symbol of wealth, but perhaps a less obvious one. Until you think about the colour of our paper money. Cha-ching.
True Southerners love greens, from simple boiled cabbage or sauerkraut to kale, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, or the perennial favourite, collard greens. They’re served with almost everything. And a good thing too, because there ain’t many vitamins in pork and butter.
Of course, greens alone don’t taste too good, so best to fix that with – you guessed it – pork and butter. Or else take the advice of Jocelyn at Grandbaby Cakes and replace the butter with bacon fat. We concur. Find her mouthwatering Southern collard greens recipe here.
If you don’t know what potlikker is then you ain’t no Southerner. It’s the delicious broth leftover from cooking greens. Sometimes it’s put aside and eaten the next day, with cornbread crumbled into it for substance. But there’s no reason not to cook it with grander intentions than that, especially considering how rich with vitamins and iron it is.
Oh, and did we mention it’s top-shelf delicious? It’s called a potlikker for a reason – you’ll want to lick the pot clean afterward. It makes a superb accompaniment to a bowl of Hoppin’ John, so grab the recipe at My Recipes and get cooking.
What Not to Eat on New Year's Day
Most of the above are eaten on New Year’s Day because they are (or were) thought to bring good luck. That’s not unique to the South, but in cultures all across the world. So what shouldn’t you eat? What foods may, in fact, bring bad luck?
Well, there’s one popular food in the South you should definitely avoid this time of year: seafood. Lobster particularly is thought to bring bad luck because they move backward, meaning setbacks in the year ahead, likewise with chicken, which scratch backward. It’s also said that eating winged creatures could make your luck fly away, but whether or not that applies to flightless birds like chicken and turkey is anyone’s guess.