Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Southern Superstition: Blackeyed Peas on New Years Day

I can remember when I was a kid my mother and everyone else in East Texas made sure you ate your helping of black eyed peas on New Years day. I asked a couple of young people in Dallas if they were aware of that tradition and they said they had never heard of it. Times do change. Below is the best explanation to this once popular tradition I could find, from Not sure if the Black Eyed Pea Festival in Athens, Texas is still going on each year but it was a very interesting event to say the least.

A staple in the Southern diet for over 300 years, black-eyed peas have long been associated with good luck. A dish of peas is a New Year's tradition in most areas of the South, thought to bring luck and prosperity for the new year. According to Jessica Harris, author of "Welcome Table," some add a dime to the peas for an extra "boost" of luck to the recipient. Greens, thought to symbolize folding money, are often eaten eaten with the peas.

Black-eyed peas with sausage and barbecue sauce.

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 pound link sausage, or your favorite
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce

Rinse, prepare, soak, and cook peas in about 3 cups water, following directions on the package. Drain and reserve half of the cooking liquid. In a skillet over medium heat, brown sausage and onions; drain off excess fat. Place peas in a 3-quart casserole; add sausage and onions. Stir in reserved liquid, brown sugar, mustard, salt, and barbecue sauce. Bake at 300° for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Serves 6.

Don't forget to add a little rice to the peas and sausage that the above recipe doesn't include. Makes for a great meal!