Skip to main content

Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine

The Family Table: January '17

Jan 17, 2017 03:53PM ● By Tracy McCoy

New Year’s Day brings big and loud excitement to my home! We ring in the new year with a bang (literally)! We shoot skeet in the empty pasture just down the creek from our house. We invite all the family and set up two skeet throwers and we make a joyful noise!

There are some really good shooters in our family: my husband Peanut and both of my children Joe and Kendall are wonderful shots, as are many of my nephews and cousins. Hit or miss, it does not matter. We have a wonderful time making noise and being together. We leave the fields and head back up the creek to our house for a traditional Southern New Year’s feast of greens, beans, cornbread and pork.

There are a lot of different ideas of what the traditional New Year’s Day foods represent, but at our house we believe the greens represent the “greenbacks", the peas (or beans) represent the pennies, the cornbread represents the gold and the pork represents your luck for the next year. There is an old saying I have heard my entire life: “Eat poor on New Year’s Day and eat fat the rest of the year”. After the Christmas gift spending spree, eating poor on New Year’s sounds like a really good idea!

When my kids were younger, telling them that the greens represented their money for the upcoming year might have been why they both love greens so much! Tee-hee.

So, let me share some of my favorite New Year's fare with you!

Collard greens are king at our house! All of our family loves them. They take a little time to prepare, but you can double the batch and freeze the leftovers for another meal. They get better each time you re-heat them.

The key to really great greens is in the prep work. Begin with 2 large bundles of collard greens. I strip the leaves off of the tough stem. Place the leaves into a large bowl of cold water and wash the greens. If they are very dirty, you may need to wash them 2-3 times. Keep rinsing until there is no residue of sand in the bottom of the bowl. Drain the greens and give them a rough chop. Do not cut them too small.

Rough chop a large onion and sauté in a large pot with 3 – 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper to onions. When onions are soft add 3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook for 2 – 3 more minutes and begin adding the chopped greens a handful at a time. Allow each batch to wilt down before adding the next batch. When all of the collards have been added to the pot, add 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Tablespoons of hot sauce if you like it. Slice a round of Kielbasa Sausage on the diagonal and add to the collards. Cover collards completely with chicken broth and allow them to simmer on low heat, for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until greens are silky in appearance and liquid is reduced. If I am cooking a really large pot of collards, I will pre-cook the sausages on my smoker. It makes it even better!

I have family who say these are the only greens they will eat. They really are that good!

White soup beans with pork ribs are another winter family favorite. We do have black eye peas on New Year’s Day for traditions sake, but we also have white soup beans with pork. They are very simple to make. Rinse and “look over” 1 pound of white beans. I have never found anything in the beans but I have had people tell me they have found small rocks in them. Place beans in crock pot along with 6 cups of cold water, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 3 – 4 boneless pork pieces. I use boneless country style ribs. You can use pork ribs with bones in them, but make certain all of the bones are removed before serving. I add 2 dried cayenne pepper pods. I grow these and dry them in the summer for my cooking, but you can use a little crushed red or black pepper. Cook in crock-pot on high heat for 6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. If you are in a hurry, these are perfect to cook in a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. The beans will get better each time they are re-heated.

A perfect accompaniment to the collard greens and soup beans are oven-roasted sweet potatoes. Pre-heat oven to 400˚. Peel 3 – 4 large sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler. Cut into uniform wedges, keeping the size as consistent as possible. Place wedges in a bowl and drizzle with 2 – 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and toss. Spread wedges on a baking sheet and season with a sprinkle of kosher salt, crushed red pepper and dried sage. Roast at 400˚ for approximately 25 minutes or until they are tender. Remove potatoes from oven and turn wedges over. Season the back side of wedges with a small sprinkle of salt, red pepper and sage. Return to oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle hot sweet potatoes with 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar and toss. Use Truvia Brown Sugar for a no-guilt treat. Serve warm.

These dishes are budget-friendly and will taste wonderful alongside a pone of homemade cornbread on New Year’s Day or on a cold January evening.

Happy New Year’s to you and those that you love! Make 2017 the year to build on your old family traditions or to start new ones that will enrich your life! May God bless you and keep you in His hand!

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Georgia Mountain Laurel's free newsletter to catch every headline