Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Day 2009 Menu

Oven-Braised Black-Eyed Peas
Crispy Bacon
Skillet-Sizzled Buttermilk Cornbread
Collard Greens
Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundaes

We're starting the New Year with the traditional Southern meal of Black-Eyed Peas and Greens. For those not familiar with the tradition, the peas bring you good luck and the greens ensure a pocket full of greenbacks throughout the year. I usually cook the peas on the stovetop, but due to a gas leak, my stove is shut down temporarily. I cooked the peas in the oven instead, and I have to say they were the best I've ever made. The gentle oven braising ensured the peas didn't break open and the broth was unmuddied from vigorous boiling.

This is how I made the peas:

1. New Year's Eve, I opened a one-pound bag of dried peas and poured them into a shallow baking pan. After picking out the duds, I covered the peas with about an inch of water and left the pan on the counter overnight.

2. The next morning, I poured off the excess liquid and tranferred the peas to a Dutch oven. I covered the peas with water up to an inch above the pea-line. To the pot, I added one frozen smoked turkey wing, one chopped Vidalia onion, two smashed garlic cloves, salt and pepper.

3. I placed the pot in the oven and set it on 250 convection for four hours. I checked throughout the cooking time to make sure the liquid didn't get too low. After four hours, the peas were luscious and the house smelled warm and wintry.

4. I let the peas continue to cook in a low oven for a few hours. And that's it. How easy can it get? There was a lot of liquid, which made the peas more like soup, which was ok by me, especially nice to crumble the cornbread into.

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