I opened my fridge this morning, and there it sat, taunting me.
Ugh, I’m so tired of you. I had a bagel (GF, of course) instead.
But, before said ham is relegated to the freezer until I want it again, it’s going to have one more incarnation: New Year’s Blackeye Peas. It would have been even better with the bone, but my mom made the ham this year and kept that prize for herself.
You’re likely in the same boat, a fridge full of bits and pieces that need to get used or frozen pretty darn soon. Go ahead and do that; don’t be wasteful! Bag up and freeze what you can’t deal with, and make a few fabulous New Year’s dishes with what you can. I have a couple ideas that might help.
Leftover Nuts, Dried Fruit, Fresh Herbs
I discovered a quite lovely Christmas potluck dish a couple weeks ago when heading out to a party. This rice dish features walnuts, dried cranberries, fresh parsley and basil, which were beautiful and delicious in a red-and-green sort of way. I added orange marmalade to the original recipe for color, flavor and a bit of sticky-rice texture. I also toasted the walnuts, which you should totally do no matter what kind of nuts you use.
For New Year’s, just use whatever nuts and dried fruit you have left over. I’d say the parsley should stay, but also add some fresh basil if you have it. You might even experiment with the marmalade; I dare you to use the last of your holiday pepper jelly!
New Year’s Sticky Rice
(Modified from Parsley-Herb Rice with Cranberries recipe by Midwest Living)
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces (pecans, almonds or pine nuts would work as well)
- 1 1/2 cup long grain white rice, brown rice or wild rice blend (i.e. Lundberg brand; do not use anything with a seasoning packet!)
- 3 cups water or chicken broth
- 2 T. butter
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 T. fresh basil, chiffonade
- 1/4 cup orange marmalade
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit, cut to similar size
In a skillet over medium-low heat, toast the nuts until just fragrant, stirring every so often so they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, butter, oil and water or chicken broth and bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the rice is done (white rice should take 15-20 minutes, brown rice or wild rice blend closer to an hour). While the rice is cooking, prepare the parsley and basil and combine them in a small bowl in the fridge.
When the rice is done, turn it out onto a sheet pan and spread it out to cool slightly. This helps the rice maintain its structure and not get smashed when mixed with the other items.
When still just a bit warm, gently mix the rice in a large bowl with the marmalade and cranberries or other fruit. Just before serving, fold in the parsley, basil and nuts.
Best served at room temperature.
Ham and Ham Bone
Every year, my mom buys a ham for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at her house. Every year, I ask the same question: Is it bone-in? Because I know, if it is, she’ll be making something like this come New Year’s Eve. I make it at my house, too…Good luck all around!
Since Mom kept the bone this year, mine won’t have the (cover your ears, vegans) unctuous, gelatinous awesome that comes from a long simmer with the porcine hip bone. But even with the ham scraps alone, this makes for a festive and relatively easy dish to ring in the year.
New Year’s Blackeye Peas
- 1 pound dried blackeye peas (even better, order some cowpeas)
- 1/2 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces
- 2 T. butter
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 1/2 lb. ham pieces, cut into small bites, with bone if you have one
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 quarts chicken broth or water (or enough to cover the peas and other stuff by 1 inch)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Hot sauce to taste
The night before cooking, pick through the peas for rocks and such (I honestly very rarely do this, but they say you should…meh) and rinse in a colander. Place in a large bowl and cover with fresh water, and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let the peas soak overnight.
On cooking day, rinse the peas again in the colander to remove all the toxins that come out during soaking.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a separate bowl and drain all but a couple tablespoons of the grease. Add the butter, onion, garlic and celery and cook over medium heat a few minutes until softened.
Place the peas and all the skillet veggies into a large pot, along with the ham pieces and the bone if you have it. Add the bay leaves and cover everything with the chicken broth or water. Bring to a bare simmer and let it cook for one hour. Check the texture of the peas and see if they are soft; you can continue to cook them much longer if you like. (This part may be done up to 8 hours in a slow cooker on low.)
When the peas are tender to your liking, remove the bone and bay leaves. Smash about 1/4 cup of the peas against the side of the pot, or use an immersion blender (being careful not to puree too much) to thicken the liquid a bit. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit of hot sauce. Garnish with the reserved cooked bacon.
These peas are fabulous right away, but they’re even better after being cooled and reheated the next day.