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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Prepping for the New Year with Black-Eyed Peas, Ham Hocks, and some Resolutions

I've done a lot of thinking about my food life over the past week or two, and I have come to the realization (which I've alluded to), that I have recently descended into a bit of a food funk. In the spirit of the New Year, I hereby resolve to do the following things to get myself out of this funk:
- Get into a weekday food prep routine - the exact routine will be revealed over time, but it will include make-ahead meals, slow cooker meals and more militant menu planning
- Read more about food. I've been uninspired lately, but I'm relatively certain that I can change this by reading my cookbooks, food magazines, and checking into eGullet on a daily basis.
- Remember the basics. There are some meals that I can always make well, and these help to decrease the general funk. These include Chicken Parmesan, Greek Salad and Black-Eyed Peas and Ham Hocks.

The Black-Eyed Peas are a New Year's Day tradition in our house, handed down from Michael's grandfather, who grew up in the South. The version we make comes from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American. It is amazing, and this year will be especially good, because we got our ham hocks from the Paulina Meat Market.

This recipe serves six:

Black-Eyed Peas and Ham Hocks

2 pounds smoked ham hocks, cut into 2-inch slices (we just use the hocks as is, but feel free to have your butcher slice them)
1/2 pound black-eyed peas, soaked for 4 hours and drained
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

black pepper to taste (you probably won't need salt due to the ham hocks)

Put the hocks in a large pot and barely cover them with fresh water. Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 2 hours. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for another two hours (this is more than twice as long as the original recipe, but we like the meat to fall off the bone - feel free to cook it for less time)

We eat this over white rice. It's amazing.

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