Who knew there was so much history surrounding food!
I definitely believe in superstitions so every New Years Day, I make black eyed peas and collard greens with a side of cornbread! As I started digging into why this is believed, I was amazed by the history behind this tradition.
For over 1,000 years, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day has been considered good luck. In the Talmud written around 500 A.D., it was a Jewish custom at the time to eat black-eyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
According to common folklore, the tradition spread after the Civil War. Under General Sherman’s march, the Union Army stole the Confederates’ food supplies but left the peas and pork, believing they were food for the animals. However the Southern soldiers felt lucky to have these supplies to get them through the cold winter. Another Southern tradition states that black-eyed peas are a symbol of emancipation for previously enslaved African-Americans, who were officially freed on New Year’s Day after the Civil War
If you serve black eyed peas with cornbread, it represents gold, and if they are stewed with tomatoes, it symbolizes wealth and health. As for collard greens, they’re green like money and will ensure you a financially prosperous new year.
Some people will even put a penny or a dime inside the pot of peas. Whoever is “lucky” enough to receive the coin will have the most luck for the rest of the year. In my family, my grandmother used to say whoever finds the bay leaf in their dish, has luck all year. A bay leaf is much safer than swallowing a coin!
Seriously, I could go on and on about the theories and beliefs of this tradition. I encourage you to do some research yourself. For now, let’s get to cooking!
BLACK EYED PEAS INGREDIENTS
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 4 Garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 lb. Black Eyed Peas, dried, uncooked and not soaked
- 1 lb. Ham Hock, or Ham bone (if you don’t have either you can use ½ cup real bacon bites)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups Chicken Broth
- 2 cups Water
- Salt & Pepper to taste
BLACK EYED PEAS INSTRUCTIONS
Turn on Instant Pot using the saute function, and allow the pot to get hot.
Once hot, add the oil and onions. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent (about 5 minutes)
Add the garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds.
Press CANCEL on the Instant Pot.
Add the dried, uncooked, not soaked Black Eyed Peas, bay leaves, thyme, red pepper flakes and stir to combine the peas and seasonings.
Make a well in the middle of the peas and add the Ham hock.
Slowly pour in the broth and water.
Close the lid, and set the valve to sealing. Press the manual (pressure cook) button, and adjust the time to 20 minutes.
After the time is up, allow 15 minutes natural release before opening the valve to release any remaining pressure.
Carefully, open the lid, and remove the bay leaves and ham hock, try to remove any meat from the bone and add it to the peas. If you are using bacon bites, leave them in the pot.
Stir in the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Check out my Collard Green recipe next!