Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Fortune Cooking

I can understand why black-eyed peas bring good luck: they are low in calories and rich with a number of nutrients including fiber, calcium, folate, vitamin A, zinc, iron, and potassium. Southern culture may not have been the author of the new year superstition but they certainly have perfected the culinary sentiment. Those of us native to the region enjoy them with greens, cornbread, or other vegetables--and feel as proud as Paula Deen.

January's edition of Woman's Day clued me into local author (he's from our neighbor North Carolina) Rick McDaniel who celebrates this very dish in his book An Irresistible History of Southern Food: Four Centuries of Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens and Whole Hog Barbecue. His "Hoppin' John" recipe suggests salt pork and rice for the new year. I decided to go the healthier route with turkey bacon (which does not crumble as well by the way) and spinach:


4 slices of bacon

2 cloves garlic

15 oz can black-eyed peas

1/4 cup water

10 oz cup spinach (stems discarded)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook 4 slices bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Break into pieces. Add 2 cloves garlic (sliced) to skillet and cook until golden brown, 2 minutes. Add a  15-oz can black-eyed peas (rinsed) and 1/4 cup water and cook until heated through. Add one 10-oz pkg spinach, season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, tossing, until beginning to wilt, 2 minutes. Toss with bacon.

This dish went well with my New Year's Day family meal which included pork chops with roasted carrots and oranges (pg 110 Woman's Day January--Easy Every Day Meals). This particular meal came out to a little more than $2.45 a serving because we made it for 6 and purchased additive and hormone free pork from Bedford Avenue Meat Market. The fillets were tender and juicy, only simply seasoned with salt and pepper:

  • 2 teaspoon(s) honey
  • ½ teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  •  pound(s) medium carrots, cut into 2-in. pieces (halved lengthwise if large)
  • 1  navel orange, cut into wedges
  • 3  scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup(s) fresh dill, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 4  1-in.-thick pork chops, trimmed (about 1¼ lb total)

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, cumin, 1 Tbsp oil, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.
  2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with the honey mixture and arrange in an even layer. Nestle the oranges among the carrots and roast until the carrots are tender and beginning to turn golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Toss with the scallions and dill (if using).
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ½ tsp each salt and pepper and cook until browned and nearly cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Serve with the carrots and roasted orange wedges for squeezing.

You'll remember my special dishes from Kemper Street Flea Market. I love using them for special occasions like this.

I don't usually like cooked orange vegetables (the only thing I will consistently refuse is fennel) but the roasted oranges and honey added a unique, distinct flavor to the experience. 

I hope good luck and quality food will find you in the new year.

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