Because my publisher, Wiley, has just released a lushly illustrated paperback edition of my recent cookbook, Falling Off the Bone, I'm including two if its more than 150 recipes here to whet your appetite. Now available both in bookstores and online, this new paperback is priced at just $19.99. Here, now, two recipes to bubble up and enjoy one wintry day.
BLACK-EYED PEA SOUP WITH COLLARDS AND HAM HOCKS
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
I call this my “lucky three soup” because it contains black-eyed peas, bitter greens, and pork, the three foods Southerners eat on New Year’s Day to ensure good luck, good health, and prosperity in the coming year. Some Southerners choose turnip or mustard greens over collards for their traditional New Year’s feast, but for this soup, I think collards best. Put them in the pot at the start, or if you prefer crunchier collards, hold half of them back and add about thirty minutes before serving. I use country ham hocks for this soup because of their deep smoky/salty flavor, but “packing house” hocks are perfectly good. Whichever you choose, make sure there’s “plenty of meat on them bones.” Tip: Collards are easier to wash after they’re trimmed and sliced. And here’s a trick I learned from the Portuguese who’ve elevated collards to national dish status. Strip stems and coarse central ribs from each collard leaf (I simply cut down both sides of each rib with a sharp knife). Then working in batches, stack half a dozen leaves, roll into a fat cigar, and slice crosswise at half-inch intervals. For Caldo Verde (Green Soup), Portugal’s national dish, women whisk razor-sharp knives back and forth across the collard rolls freeing shreds as fine as baby’s hair. Once all the collards have been sliced, wash by plunging gently up and down in a sink of cold water, then drain well. Note: Because of the saltiness of the ham, this soup may need no salt. But taste before serving and adjust as needed.
- 1 pound dried black-eyed peas, washed, sorted, and soaked overnight
in enough cold water to cover
- 1/4 cup bacon drippings or vegetable oil
- 3 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 large bunch fresh collards (about 1 1/2 pounds), washed, trimmed,
and sliced 1/2 inch thick (see Tip above)
- 2 1/2 pounds meaty smoked ham hocks (see headnote)
- 1 can (14 ounces) beef or chicken broth plus enough cold water
to total 2 quarts (8 cups)
- 12 black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, or to taste
- Salt, if needed to taste (see Note above)
- Drain black-eyed peas, rinse well, drain again, and set aside.
- Heat drippings in large Dutch oven over moderately high heat until ripples begin to appear on the pan bottom – 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
- Add onions and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until limp and lightly browned – about 10 minutes. Add collards and cook, stirring now and then, until wilted – about 5 minutes. Mix in black-eyed peas.
- Anchor ham hocks in vegetables, add broth mixture and peppercorns, and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust so liquid bubbles gently, cover, and simmer, stirring now and then, until black-eyed peas are tender and ham all but falls from the bones – 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Note: Check pot now and then and if soup threatens to scorch, slide a diffuser underneath Dutch oven and reduce burner heat to lowest point.
- Lift ham hocks to a cutting board and strip meat from bones. Add to soup along with hot pepper sauce to taste, and salt, if needed. Discard bones.
- Ladle into heated soup plates and accompany with freshly baked corn bread or chunks of good country bread. Better yet, cool soup, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Next day, reheat and serve.
TEXAS BEEF ‘N’ BEANS
Makes 8 to 10 Servings
Of the many chilies to come out of Texas, I prefer this one because it’s spicy but not incendiary and makes enough for a party. The original chili, it’s said, was the cowboy “bowl of red,” nothing more than the peppery pemmican they carried boiled in a bucket of water. Over time diced tough cuts (and eventually, hamburger meat) replaced the pemmican. I still use finely diced bottom round though hamburger is surely easier. You’ll find both options here. Tip: Bottom round will dice more cleanly if set in the freezer just long enough for it to firm up. Needless to add, the knife you use should be honed to razor-sharpness. Easier still, use your food processor -- if it’s a big powerful one. You won’t get dice, only coarsely chopped meat but that’s acceptable. First trim away as much connective tissue as possible, cut meat into one-inch cubes, and firm up by setting in freezer for 45 minutes. Finally, pulse meat briskly in three batches until the size of small peas.
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans, washed, sorted, and soaked
overnight in cold water
- 2 quarts (8 cups) cold water (about)
- 4 tablespoons lard, bacon drippings, or vegetable oil
- 2 pounds finely diced bottom round or coarsely ground lean beef chuck
(see Tip above)
- 2 large Spanish or Vidalia onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried leaf oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground hot red chili peppers (cayenne –
depending on how “hot” you like things)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 large whole bay leaves (preferably fresh)
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with their liquid
- Drain beans, rinse well in cold water, and place in large saucepan. Add 6 cups cold water, bring to a boil over moderate heat, then adjust so water barely ripples. Cover and cook until beans are nearly tender -- about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, heat lard in large heavy Dutch oven over high heat until ripples appear on pan bottom – 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then brown beef in several batches, allowing about 10 minutes per batch and lifting each to a bowl as it browns.
- Add next eight ingredients to drippings (onions through bay leaves) and sauté, stirring often, until lightly browned – 10 to 12 minutes. Return beef and accumulated juices to pot along with tomatoes.
- When beans have cooked 1 hour, add them and all cooking liquid to pot plus remaining 2 cups water or just enough to cover ingredients by about an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn heat down low so chili barely bubbles, and simmer uncovered, stirring now and then, until fairly thick and flavors mellow – 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Note: If chili threatens to scorch, mix in a little additional water and slide a diffuser underneath the pot. Remove bay leaves, taste for salt and cayenne, and adjust as needed.
- Ladle into heated large soup bowls and accompany with plenty of soda crackers or crusty chunks of country bread. Or, if you prefer, cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight – your chili will taste even better when reheated the next day.