I’m not Irish, but I love the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland looks so beautiful and rugged. At least according to Waking Ned Divine and P.S I love you. The green hills, the smoky and cozy pubs. And just what IS IT about those accents? I don’t know….
The New Year is full of symbols of prosperity. Jade plants, collard greens, oranges, and black eyed peas—these are all supposed signs of prosperity and wealth. I like foods that symbolize things. It makes me wonder how the food got such a reputation, why it is considered lucky, and that maybe, just maybe, it will work? It’s fun to start the year off with a good omen. Wether the folklore is true or not, it’s not a bad way to start out eating something delicious!
Black eyed peas, collard greens, and smoked ham are natural friends in this recipe. The jalapeño and red chili flakes give this a really nice mild to medium heat level.
There is additional cooked ham added to this, you could almost just use the smoked ham hocks if you didn’t have extra ham laying around. When the hocks are done cooking with the soup (at the very end) remove them to a cutting board and let them cool a bit. Then use a knife to cut off the fat and roughly chop up the meat. It is so tender.
Cooking beans is a lesson in planning ahead, but if you didn’t remember to soak your beans over night, you can try the quick soak method. I just filled a pot with 8 cups of water and two pounds of washed and picked over beans. Then you bring it to a boil and let it boil for 2 minutes. After that, you turn the water off and move the beans off of the heat while they soak for one hour. Drain them again and they are ready to use in this recipe—you will cook them longer with the soup.
After they quick soak, add in the ham hock and some epazote if you have it.
Epazote is traditionally used in Mexican cooking, but it really adds a nice flavor to a pot of beans, so I thought, why not? I’m glad I chanced it.
This dried Epazote has a mild sweet flavor, which is a nice undertone to the ham and the veggies and rice in this soup. I recommend an Oregon Pinot Gris with this. Happy New Year’s! Cheers to 2015!
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 cups cooked long-grain white rice for serving
green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Soak your beans over night or do the quick soak method. For quick soak: Add the rinsed and picked over beans to a large pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let stand one hour, then drain.
Bring soaked peas, ham hocks, and 8 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, skimming foam occasionally, until peas are tender, about 30-35 minutes. Drain peas, reserving 2 cup cooking liquid along with ham hocks; set aside.
Add some olive oil to a 12-qt. pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped ham, red chili flakes, garlic, jalapeños, carrot, onion, celery, and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add reserved ham hocks, and cooking liquid, along with collards and 10 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until collards are tender, about one hour. When the collards and the beans are tender, remove the smoked ham hocks to a cutting board and let them cool slightly. Extract the meat, slicing through the ham hock and cutting off and around the fat chunks. Add all the meat back into the pot and discard the ham fat. Add the cooked and reserved beans back into the pot.
Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Spoon rice into bowls and ladle soup over rice and add sliced green onions.