As New Year's Eve approaches, we gear up for what has been a tradition in our family: black-eyed peas and pork, along with corned beef and all the trimmings. This appears to be a mixture of southern celebrations and Irish traditions, and it is so special that we don't have this combination any other time of the year.
The trick is in the timing, as the food needs to be prepared very slowly so that it is ready to eat precisely at midnight. Having the black-eyed peas as the year turns insures good luck throughout the new year.
The black-eyed peas are soaked overnight. Pieces of pork with pork bone are added. The peas and pork are bought to a boil and then the heat is immediately reduced to the lowest flame possible. After about 45 minutes sliced onions are added and the dish is cooked vey slowly. It is usually ready in about two hours.
The corned beef is started at the same time, and is also cooked on a very low flame after first bringing the stew pot with water covering the corned beef to a boil. After about an hour, whole red potatoes, and whole carrots are added, and after about one-half hour, half a head of cabbage is placed on top of the corned beef. The pot is covered, brought to a boil, and then cooked on as low a flame as possible until the cabbage is tender.
This is not a stew. All the ingredients are removed and served on separate dishes. Serve with corn bread, plenty of butter, and mustard, of course. The combination of the cabbage and vegetables slowly cooked with the corned beef creates a wonderful taste.
This is how Dad prepared our New Year's Eve/New Year's celebration for decades, and we have kept the tradition alive. "Scuse me, I've gotta run to the store. I forgot the cabbage!