Look, I know it's a football and snicky snack day today, but a good Southerner will tell you you've still got to find room for your fried pork chops and your collard greens and your black-eyed peas and your cornbread to ensure you'll have a happy and prosperous New Year.
I'ma make this quick so in case you've arrived at JAN. ONE without your necessary supplies, you can hie yourself hither on down to the Piggy Wiggly or the Dubya D or the Bi-Lo's or the Jewel-Osco and pick up what you'll need to get your Kulinary Karma right. (Are there still Dubya D's down there? You know WD? Winn Dixie?)
Do y'all know how to fry a pork chop and make some nice rich onion gravy with the pan drippings?
Sigh. I have so much to teach you.
Now, I'm not going to write out my whole recipe here because my own kitchen beckons, but here's a link to a recipe very similar to how I do it:
Fried Pork Chops and Creamy Gravy
On this one, I would definitely NOT use half and half in the gravy because there's rich and then there's "OHMYGRANNY THIS IS CLINGIN' TO MY UVULA AND CLOGGIN' UP MY THROAT GAGGITY GAG GAG" and to me, gravy made with anything fattier than whole milk falls into the latter category. I might even use a two to one milk to water ratio here myself. And because Al's Mama, Grandma Carrie, did it this way, I use a bigger onion and just cut it into rings instead of dicing. But other than that, I'd say you can just go with this recipe and you're covered, fried pork choppily-speakin'.
YUM, my people.
WHAT?! It's only once a year. It's not like I fry up a batch of pork chops once a week or anything. So chill out on the artery-cloggin' lecture and the crossed arms and the foot-tappin'. I TOLD YOU TO OMIT THE HALF AND HALF DIDN'T I? See? I'm reasonable!
Now y'all DO know about hoppin' john, right?
OH, TELL ME YOU KNOW ABOUT HOPPIN' JOHN!
In my world (which is the only one that matters for the purpose of this illustration), hoppin' john is white rice with black-eyed peas on top, all smothered up with some salsa or spicy tomato relish (been known to use artichoke relish on occasion but never on New Years Day because that wouldn't be right) on top, perhaps also with a smattering of diced raw sweet onion. Personally I throw my collard greens into the mix because I like to start out the New Year right there on the razor's edge, but some people around here (the more conservative, rule-followin' people) keep the collards in a small bowl on the plate, separate and distant from the hoppin' john. And I just try to go along and smile and keep the peace with those people even though I think they are missin' out on a real flavor-fest. And who wants to start off the year a quart low on flavor?
Still I just keep the peace.
(Did you hear my halo twinkle just then?)
I'ma level with you people. I love collard greens when they're cooked right and I've eaten collard greens prepared by other Southern women that will make you want to slap your Granny they're s'good, but me? I'm still casting about for the right collard recipe. I've made 'em pretty good, yes, but as yet my Granny remains summarily unslapped where home-prepared collard greens are concerned.
My grandmother, not surprisingly, is happy with that arrangement.
I am not.
Thus I'm trying this recipe this year, by a woman who knows and loves food so well she took a flyin' ham to the face and lived to laugh and joke about it. Didn't even break her nose. That's a woman with a solid and loving (and reciprocal!) relationship with smoked pork products, right there.
Paula Deen's Collard Greens.
I have the ham and seasonings simmering in the water in my BRAND NEW ALL-CLAD STOCKPOT that Al gave me for Christmas and if the aroma of that broth is any indication, I b'lieve we may have ourselves a winner.
*** Edited to add that we've now consumed all but about a half cup of a full recipe of these greens, about 2 hours later, and not only were they the best I've ever cooked, they were the best I've ever eaten. Al says they magically transported him back to South Georgia and the suppers they used to eat, served outta the trunks of church members' cars which were parked under shade trees in the church's back yard, after Big Meetin' of a hot August afternoon.) I would highly, HIGHLY recommend this recipe for collard greens. HIGHLY! ***
And now you're gonna need you some black-eyed peas!
My Friend Courtney's Recipe for Black-Eyed Peas
And make you some white rice, too. Mahatma is my favorite brand, but it's hard to find up here (they only have it at WalMart, which is no suprise, is it?) I just follow the package instructions because RICE IS PERSNICKETY AND YOU CAN'T MESS AROUND WITH IT OR YOU END UP WITH RICE-FLAVORED HUNKS OF RUBBERY, GUMMY, GROSSNESS.
And lastly, you'll be needin' some corn bread. I've made a lot of corn bread in my life time, concentrated heavily here in the years of my marriage to Al, because he LOVES him some corn bread, and Bean? OHMYGRANNY that apple fell squarely at the foot of the corn bread-lovin' tree. I secretly suspect her passion may stem at least in part from her love of butter, but all the same, she can put the stuff away just like her Daddy. This is the BEST recipe I've found so far. I follow it TO THE LETTER except I generally split the batter between a prepared 12-muffin tin and my good old cast-iron skillet. This corn bread is just the right consistency, crispy on the outside, tender, moist and a little tiny bit cakey on the inside, and just the right balance of sweet to salty. Put you some softened sweet cream butter on a piece of this stuff and you've got yourself a little slice of heaven.
You try it and see if I'm not right.
You won't be disappointed.
If you like corn bread, I mean.
Which, who doesn't like corn bread?
Okay now I have to scoot. My ham broth is ready for the collard green simmerin' and I've got a mess of pork chops to fry!
Happy New Year, Y'all!
Enjoy it, whatever you end up eatin'.