Black-Eyed Peas and Braised Greens Recipe

Braised greens topped with pickled stems bring good luck in the new year.
Atlanta chef/restaurateur Anne Quatrano makes a New Year's Day spread for her staff, including braised winter greens and Hoppin' John, or Southern-style beans and rice. 

black eyed peas and greens

Atlanta chef/restaurateur Anne Quatrano makes a New Year's Day spread for her staff, including braised winter greens and Hoppin' John, or Southern-style beans and rice. 

Photo by: Image by Brian Woodcock

Image by Brian Woodcock

Atlanta chef/restaurateur Anne Quatrano makes a New Year's Day spread for her staff, including braised winter greens and Hoppin' John, or Southern-style beans and rice. 

Every year, Atlanta chef/restaurateur Anne Quatrano hosts a drop-in brunch for the employees of her restaurants on New Year's Day. "From Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, my team works nonstop," she writes in her new cookbook, Summerland. "We catch our breath and thank each other for another year of hard work and wonderful food."

Her traditional Southern New Year's Day menu includes three staples: pork, winter greens and black-eyed peas. "Southerners have long eaten black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck," she says. "They often appear in the form of Hoppin' John, the traditional Lowcountry dish of rice and black-eyed peas. Greens—whether collard, cabbage, turnip or any other winter green — are eaten in hopes that they will bring money ('greenbacks,' that is) in the year to come." 

Quatrano grows greens nine months a year in her home garden and uses them in all her restaurants. “Typically, we harvest them young, when they are tender, so they cook much faster than mature greens,” she says. "In the braise, we mix the meaty texture of collard greens with the delicate flavor and texture of chard and the tangy bite of mustard greens. Any combination of greens will work—you could also use beet, turnip and rutabaga greens, as well as kale or spinach.“

Instead of tossing or composting the large stems of greens, Quatrano pickles them the day before serving and uses them as a garnish for the greens.

Braised Winter Greens

Serves 6

  • ½ pound slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) young mustard greens, stems reserved
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) young Swiss chard, stems reserved
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) young collard greens, stems reserved
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper vinegar for serving

In a large stockpot over medium to low heat, add the bacon and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and sauté until transparent. Add the maple syrup, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop or slice the greens. Add the greens to the pot and cook over medium to low heat until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the greens are very tender, 15 minutes.

Season with salt, then stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons cold butter until melted and combined. Serve immediately (so the greens keep their vibrant color) with pepper vinegar and top with pickled stems.

Quick Pickles

Makes 1 pint

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups mustard, chard and/or collard stems, cut into 2-inch pieces

Place the vinegar, sugar, salt, seeds and herbs in a large saucepan with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pack the stems into a pint jar. Pour the hot pickling liquid through a strainer into the jar.

Let cool, place a lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several weeks.

Hoppin’ John

Serves 6

  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 pound Sea Island red peas or dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup Carolina Gold or other long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, slowly cook the bacon until translucent. Add the peas, onions, garlic, bay leaf and 7 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the peas are tender but not mushy, about 1 hour.

Drain the mixture in a colander. Discard the onion halves, garlic and bay leaves and set aside the peas and bacon.

In the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, bell pepper and rice and sauté until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender. The rice should still be moist and there should be some stock left in the pot. Add the peas and bacon and stir in the fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

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