Every January I make Hoppin' John and Collard Greens. In the South, this combination is a favorite on New Year's Day for good fortune in the year to come. The black eyed peas are for change in your pocket and the collards are for folding money. It's a wonder folks don't just eat collards, but I think the two ONLY work in tandem, so don't risk it. From a flavor perspective, the two are ONE. Like peanut butter and jelly.
I am not much of a recipe person. Meaning I like to wing it. Which can be annoying, I realize. This is a super easy recipe combo and it's so easy and delicious that I try to remind myself to make it at other times in the year. Note to self... again this year.
Winging it with collard greens:
Collards are super hearty. They benefit from being cooked a long time. Here's what I do. I start them in the morning. Cook them for a while and then turn them off and finish them right before eating.
Collard greens, two bunches
One large yellow onion, diced
Diced pancetta (you can also use a ham hock, but pancetta is easier)
Red pepper flakes or cayenne powder
Chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
Vinegar, a bright white one is nice, up to you
Sauté the onions in a bit of olive oil until soft, add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned, add salt, pepper and a teaspoon of spice, cut the collards into 1" strips including the stalks (you can remove the thicker parts at the end), add collards to mix and coat leaves well, add a cup of water or stock and simmer with a cover on the pot, check periodically and stir. Add liquid if it evaporates. Maybe another cup. Simmer. Turn off and let it sit as needed. Reheat. Should have some liquid on the bottom. Finish with a generous dash of vinegar. Serve with Hoppin John.
I am sure there are more than a million versions of this recipe. This is the only one I use. It's from the creator of a restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I grew up and went to college. Crooks Corner, the restaurant Bill Neal started uses a different version now. Not sure how I feel about that. I am loyal to Bill. He died in the '80s and this recipe is only one part of his legacy.
2 cans of black eyed peas or the equivalent
1.5 c (uncooked measure) white rice
2 bunches of scallions, chopped up to the green part
3 medium sized very red tomatoes, diced
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Cook/heat the peas (discard liquid in can) adding about 1/4 cup water or stock, mashing about 1/3 of them with a wooden spoon, add salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
Cook the rice.
When you're ready to serve it, mix the rice and the peas together in the pan so both are coated with the other. Turn off the heat. Add tomatoes, scallions and stir roughly. Everything should be well distributed but not melded. The beauty of this simple dish is the independence of each ingredient. Put on a pretty platter and sprinkle with cheddar. Serve with collards. Check your bank account for an influx of cash!
xoxo Farm Girl