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Peas and Prosperity To You All

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

On this first day of 2008, I want to wish everyone abundant peace, love, happiness and mostly importantly, good health*. As for the Scooter Club Golden Triangle, scooting bravely ahead into our third year (Wow! Already?), we will mark this day by having our First Annual New Year’s Day Scoot! We will meet up at 11am @ Rao’s Bakery on Dowlen in Beaumont where I will announce our itinerary and route info. Hopefully this will become a New Year’s tradition for years to come.Another tradition for New Year’s Day, as I would learn to be a particularly Southern, or to be specific, Texas one, is the eating of cabbage and black-eyed peas. There is a popular belief, or in some corners, superstition, that by eating this simple food will lead to good luck for the coming year. Some say that the peas symbolize good luck; while the cabbage is considered a symbol for money. While the experts have yet found any definitive proof on such claims, there’s no doubt on the nutritional values of such food. For example, did you know that black eyed peas are a great source of magnesium, iron, folate, protein–all this and zero cholesterol**.

Personally, I prefer turnip greens with black-eyed peas. This is not because of what someone says about a certain other New Year’s Day tradition in Georgia; but simply a personal fondness for turnip greens, which is in season now. By the way, I have just the recipe for those of you food adventurers out there. If turnip greens is not available in your area, you may substitute simply with any other type of greens, chards, or bok choy, as you prefer. (For more interesting black-eyed peas stories and recipes, also read Kitty Crider’s original article, Peas and Prosperity.)

Chicken Turnip Greens Soup with Black-Eyed Peas à la Lorenzo

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole chicken (skinned if you must)
  • 1 bunch of turnip greens (thick slices, washed 2 to 3 times and drained)
  • 1~2 (16 oz.) Canned cooked black-eyed peas (drained)
  • 1 cup tomato-based pasta sauce (my favorite–Barilla Green & Black Olive)
  • 3 Cloves of garlic (diced)
  • 1 large white onion (large dices)
  • 2 strips of bacon (cut into 2″-long pieces)
  • 6~12 oz. Smoked Pork & Venison Sausage (or substitute your favorite smoked sausage here; more as you like. Thick slices.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (say what?)
  • 3 Carrots, roll-cut (watch video)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • canola oil (just enough to sauté)
  • 1 cup lemon zest and parsley,or cilantro (coarsely chopped as garnish)
  • Water

Cooking instructions:

  1. Into a large soup pot, lightly sauté bacon, sausage, onion, garlic, and carrot with canola oil.
  2. (Same pot) pan-sear chicken on all sides. Season with a touch of salt and pepper.
  3. Cover chicken with water; bring to a quick boil; skim off any “scum that rose to the top” and turn heat down and simmer until chicken is done (Update: “Done” means that the chicken’s internal temp has reached 165 deg. F). Turn off heat. (The use of a pressure cooker would dramatically reduce the total cooking time to about 30 minutes; not to mention the energy saved.)
  4. Remove and debone chicken; slice or shred the meat (then replace in pot).
  5. Remove any surface grease by skimming.
  6. Add pasta sauce, Herbes de Provence, turnip greens, black-eyed peas and bring soup back to a soft boil. Turn off the heat (leaving the turnip greens bright green and crunchy; not over-cooked and dark green). Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Garnish and serve.

Enjoy and Have A Scoot Happy New Year!!–Lorenzo

(* I will try to send some positive energy toward my good friend and co-worker, Rollie, who remains in a coma after suffering a massive stroke days prior to Christmas ’07. Good health is most important!)

Update:

(1/12/08) I was informed that my friend Rollie is now able to respond, though sporadically, by squeezing hand and by wiggling his toes. Perhaps the positive energy has worked. Keep fighting Rollie!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wednesday, January 2, 2008 1:58 am

    For those who don’t usually cook whole chickens, what exactly does “done” mean? What should a meat thermometer or temperature probe read?

  2. Wednesday, January 2, 2008 10:12 pm

    Well, Orin, Happy New Year to you! And thank you for pointing out the terrible oversimplification of what “Done” really means.

    In this case, USDA says that the internal temp for cooked poultry should be a minimum of 165 deg. F. Normally, boiling a chicken in an open pot (takes too long in my opinion), I would (or as my Mom taught me) stick a fork deep into the area where the inner thigh connects to the body (i.e. the thickest part) then pull it out. If no blood oozes out, then it’s DONE. If you use a food thermometer, try sticking it in that same general area, too. (Sorry for being so graphic à la Sweeney Todd!)

    Nowadays, I cook with a fantastic pressure cooker (FAGOR Splendid, available from Linens-N-Things) and have experimented with it enough to know that, as soon as it begins to hiss, turn down the heat to medium and cooked for 15-min longer before turning off the heat. As soon as the cooker stops hissing (internal pressure of cooker=regular atmospheric pressure), open it and the chicken is DONE. The whole process takes about 30 minutes–it’s GREAT (for a single guy who craves good food anyway)!–Lorenzo

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