In the Southern United States, the tradition of cooking a big pot of greens to go along with black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day stretches back to Colonial Times. Hoppin’ John, a combination of black-eyed peas and rice that originated in South Carolina is a favorite along with crusty cornbread baked in hot cast iron. We recently heard about the tradition of cutting up collard greens into the shape of dollar bills for the new year as well to signify all of the money that will be rolling in throughout the New Year!
Cooking a big pot o’ greens isn’t limited to New Year’s though, it is a pretty standard dish common to buffets and family dinners throughout the South. Those traditions go back even farther though, across the sea to African and European ancestors. Cooking up a ‘mess o potherbs’ was known back as far as the Middle Ages, farther back to the age of the Vikings and before. I’m not a huge fan of a pot of cooked greens of any one type, but when I was researching foods for a Viking Feast I put together a recipe for “Potherbs” that included several greens, herbs and aliums, and finished with a drizzle of flax seed oil instead of cooking it with pork fat. The result is a wonderfully complex meld of flavors and textures, and the pot liquor will be something folks will fight over!
I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year, and here’s to having lots of productive and rewarding projects!
Potherbs (Mess o’ Greens)
In a large stock pot, combine:
Leafy Greens (collards, turnip, kale, mustard, kohlrabi, spinach, chard, etc.)
Aromatic Herbs (parsley, sorrel, dandelion, etc.)
Aliums (garlic, onions, chives, leeks)
Make sure the greens are washed thoroughly, and chopped into chunky pieces
Rough chop the herbs
Thinly slice the garlic, onions and leeks
Cover with water and allow to cook until the heavier stems are tender. If you have large collard leaves, either de-stem them or cook those for a while first before adding the more tender greens.
Season with Salt and Pepper, and finish with a generous amount of malt vinegar.
Serve with a drizzle of Flax Seed Oil.