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Epicurean Kentuckian Historian: New Year's Day Food

A stick-to-the-basics, don't-tempt-fate menu includes Hog Jowl, Blackeyed Peas, Cabbage & Cornbread, the top authority says. With this information, anyone can do New Year's Day authentically, Suthrenly
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By Mike Watson

Southern cooking, particularly on New Year's Day. Our people were and are Southern.

This fact is never so evident as on the first day of a brand new year when the traditional table fare required is as follows:
- Hog jowl, thick sliced, with the "rind" left on, fried slow and crisp--fresh pork can be used, but aged is better; grease reserved for use in the following dishes;

- Boiled cabbage with red pepper, a generous pinch or two of sugar and bacon grease, cooked low and slow;

- Blackeye peas--or as we say, "Black eyed peas" --cooked long and low with bacon grease, traditionally in a cast iron pot, but today I use my crockpot for convenience;

- Cornbread - Southern style, no sugar added, baked in a cast iron skillet--this skillet is near a century old and has never, I repeat never, been used for anything else but cornbread, and is never immersed in water and no soap is used in its cleaning--and it still functions as it did when (nearly) new; well seasoned.

This menu has not varied in my more-than-half-a-century, nor has it changed, according to previous generations, in at least a century.
Hog jowl is used instead of country ham because ham is "high-on-the-hog" or meat for the best of times. Jowl is a poor cut of bacon, from the port pantheon, and enjoyed here to promote prosperity and health in the New Year. So, no substitutions, or you may not have that high-on-the-hog diet all year!

Some say cabbage can be replaced with other green, leafy vegetables, but I fear to deviate from the norm. I have been known to mix in other vegetables, including onion and carrot. Cabbage is for the green--a prosperous New Year.

Black Eyed Peas for the health. No substitutes here; though I have mixed in pinto and other beans for a different texture and taste, but the peas must be dominant.

This was and is our noon-day meal. The rest of the day one may enjoy "candy, cake and pie" and any other foods they enjoy, but in our homes, we take the good old country view of jowl, cabbage and black eyes!

Happy New Year, all! -MW

This story was posted on 2013-12-31 08:58:26
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Epicurean Kentuckian Historian: 1st Round, New Year's Day 2014

2014-01-01 - Gourmet at large, KY - Photo by Mike Watson.
Peppered, thick sliced jowl bacon; fried eggs, free range, locally produced; toast; dollop of homemade blackberry jam, from Adair County wild berries; orange slice, imported from Florida; and strong black coffee. - Mike Watson

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Epicurean Kentuckian Historian: Round II, New Year's Day 2014

2014-01-01 - Epicurean at large, KY - Photo By Mike Watson.
A light & lucky New Year's Day Lunch: Blackeye Peas. Boiled Cabbage. Jowl Bacon. Skillet baked cornbread. - MIKE WATSON

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