Collards and Black-Eyed Peas with Italian Sausage

It’s New Year’s Day and time to bring on some good fortune and good luck for 2012!  In a southern household that means collards and black-eyed peas.  (I’m ignoring the stewed tomatoes part because, as you may recall from last year, I hate them).  I learned last night at dinner that some Italian households serve sausage cut into rounds to bring good fortune so I decided to throw some of those in for good measure.  A little more good fortune can’t hurt!

This is an easy meal to put together.  You can do a lot of it ahead of time.  It takes an hour to make the pot liquor you’ll need to cook the collards and the black-eyed peas in.  You can check my post on collard greens for the specifics on the greens.  This time I used a smoked ham hock instead of a smoked turkey wing.  Honestly I think I prefer the smoked turkey.  Somehow there’s more smoky flavor in the turkey.  Anyway, for these two dishes make two separate pots of pot liquor or be sure you remember to ladle out a bunch for the peas before you add the greens to the pot.

Instead of traditional black-eyed peas I used purple hull peas this year.  It’s a tiny first step to using some of my freezer stores.  I got these peas, which are a black-eyed pea varietal, at the farmers market in October of 2010.  I shelled them myself and then vacuum packed them with my Food Saver.  I gotta say, the Food Saver is a fantastic invention.  These peas were super good and very fresh tasting.  I added a little green Tabasco to the peas along with the minced ham from the ham hocks.  That added a nice heat and a nice salty flavor to the very earthy peas.

In one more small attempt to address my freezer issue, I pulled out a package of hot Italian sausage, made by the folks at Faith Farm.  I know I always say this, but only because it’s always true.  This is the best Italian sausage I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.  I sauteed some orange bell peppers and some sweet onion until they had a little char to serve with the sausage.  Just a little sweetness to balance out the spicy sausage.  Sear the sausage in a hot, heavy skillet 8-10 minutes, turning halfway.  Make sure the pan is hot, smoking just a little, when you add the sausage.  That will keep it from sticking and it will give a nice sear to the casing.  Let it rest a few minutes before you slice it into rounds. 

That’s it.  A meat and two sides, hopefully with a little luck in each bite.  And even if it doesn’t turn out to be lucky, it sure is good!

Good? Very.
Easy? Yep. Just do your chopping and your pot liquor ahead of time.
Good for company? A terrific meal for New Year’s Day football watching.
Special shopping? Shop local if you can.

New Year’s Day Black-Eyed Peas

Ingredients

2 C fresh black-eyed or purple hull peas
4 C pot liquor
1/2 t salt
1 T green Tabasco
Meat from one ham hock, minced

Directions

Place peas in a sauce pan. Add enough pot liquor to cover by an inch or so. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add salt and green Tabasco. Simmer 40 minutes or until the peas are fork tender all the way through.

Pot Liquor
1 1/2 quarts water
1 ham hock
1 T salt
1 t garlic powder
1 t red Tabasco or 1/4 t cayenne pepper

Directions
Add all ingredients to a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Remove the ham hock and mince the meat. Set the meat aside to add to greens or peas.

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