clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

RBR Tailgating: Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens

It's not necessarily that it helps. But what if it would have and you didn't.

Napoleon is said to have carried a picture of Josephine in his coat pocket when on campaigns. If the photo got damaged in any way he took it as an ill omen. Jennifer Aniston, who is one inch shorter than Le Bonaparte, apparently touches the outside of every plane she travels in with her right foot. Ancient Romans avoided crossing a threshold with their right foot which doesn't jibe with things I've read about Romans and sinister things, but there it is.

Superstitions are silly things, but most sports fans have them. Warren St. John, in his book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, revealed that he won't touch a shaker at games. His is a philosophical approach to fan superstition. If I remember it correctly, he wrote that it's not that an individual fan, by doing or failing to do whatever they feel is material to the immaterial, can directly hurt the fretted over team. It's an aggregate of the actions of a fan base. If a higher percentage of his'n are faithful to proscribed acts than the percentage of your'n is, his'n are going to win. I like the attempt at rationalizing the irrational.

We are clearly not immune. If I read the publishing schedule for RBR properly, you just finished reading ole whistlebritches and the commenters on the Hoodoo Thread prostrating themselves before the fates hoping to trade shame for football superiority. It's one of my favorite features on this site. That said, if the commenters on the Hoodoo over the last few months are a statistically large enough sample size, we are an incontinent lot. Be warned, Buckeyes.

If you are of a superstitious bent and from the South you're already familiar with the mandatory tradition of eating black eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day. I'm not sure we really know why we do it. I've read that green means fortune and that Sherman's scorched Earth policy ignored fields of black eyed peas because they were seen as animal feed and unfit for human consumption, a view shared by my eight year old. I've read that we have regionalized Roman and Jewish traditions. But none of that matters. If we don't do it, and things don't go our way, we'll always wonder.

We have a confluence. Game day sports superstitions and New Year's Day superstitions share the same stage. So do your shaker avoiding, hat wearing or turning, and sit in your favorite spot. (Or not. I pace. If I sit during a conference game we lose momentum.)  Let's eat our collards and black eyed peas too.

The following recipe is adapted from one in the book Collards & Carbonara by two Memphis chefs who adapt Southern ingredients to Italian concepts and the result is just brilliant. Their version of this dish is time consuming and requires more than a run to the local grocer. I think mine, although complex, can be made by rising at a reasonable hour without missing much if any meaningful football. And it's the best delivery system for black eyed peas conceived of by man.

Bacon and Black Eyed Peas Tortellini with Ham Hock and Collard Greens in Red Wine

-          1 batch Pasta Dough

For the Filling

-          1 strip very thick cut Bacon or two strips regular cut

-          1 cup Black Eyed Peas

-          ¼ diced Onion

-          2 cloves Garlic, diced

-          1 Egg

-          Olive Oil

-          4 - 6 oz. Ricotta Cheese

For the Sauce

-          2 hands full Collard Greens, chopped

-          2 slices Bacon

-          5 gloves Garlic, minced

-          ½ Shallot, minced

-          ½ Leek, chopped fine

-          Red Wine

-          Chicken Stock

-          pinch Red Pepper Flakes

-          1 small handful chopped Italian Parsley

-          2 smoked Ham Hocks

Pre Outback Bowl

I went over pasta dough in the SECCG post and things haven't changed, so do that and make pasta dough. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate.

I need to put in a little disclaimer here. My pictures do not match the above measurements. I made pasta for an army, assuming the army is of a country the size of Eritrea. The above measurements should yield enough for four or five hungry people with sauce left over to serve over bread or more pasta the next day, because that's why you make sauce.

Cotton Bowl Half Time

Drizzle a few glugs of olive oil in the bottom of a skillet and add the bacon and onion and cook on medium-high heat until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and peas. It doesn't really matter if you use dried or frozen peas so long as they are ready to cook. If dried, soak them for at least 8 hours beforehand. If frozen, toss em right in. Once the peas are soft, transfer to a food processor or blender and puree, adding olive oil if needed to keep from clumping. Move to a bowl and stir in 4 oz. of ricotta, adding more if preferred. Salt to taste and then mix in the egg for texture.

BEP Filling

Anytime After the Cotton and During the Citrus Bowl Because... Meh

Put the collards, two cloves of garlic, red pepper flakes, and two slices of bacon in a sauce pot. Cover with ½ water and ½ chicken stock and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for ten minutes and then reduce to a simmer for a minimum of one hour.

BEP Collards bacon

Still After the Cotton and During the Citrus Bowl

Add two glugs of olive oil to a sauce pan or Dutch oven and add the shallot, garlic, and leek and sauté over high heat. Give it a few minutes until the room becomes unbelievably aromatic, and then add the ham hocks. Give an occasional stir for five minutes until the hocks are good and hot and then deglaze with red wine, enough to half way cover the hocks. Two minutes later add enough chicken stock to cover the meat, the chopped parsley, and let cook at a simmer for at least an hour. That should get us to ...

Right Before Rose Bowl

Turn off the heat on everything. Pull the Ham Hocks and set aside on a plate. Drain the collards through a sieve, remove everything but the greens and add the greens to the red wine sauce.

Collard Sauce

Roll out the pasta and cut into squares. Add a pinch of ricotta/black eyed pea mixture to each. With a handy bowl of water at your side, moisten the edges and fold the pasta over the filling into triangles. Next fold the two bottom corners and moisten. It should look like a pope hat. You just made tortellini. Dust with flour and set aside.

BEP Pasta

Rose Bowl Half Time

The ham hocks should have cooled. Pick the meat from the bones and add to the sauce. Some hocks are going to be meatier than others so use your best judgement. I had some beasts when I made this latest batch and probably only added half the meat back into the sauce. Reheat the sauce and salt to taste, which may not be necessary because of the hocks.

Salt and boil water and cook the pasta. Plate. Sauce. Top with Parmesan and serve.

If done right, no football of consequence was missed. This is a Regional Dish to satisfy silly superstition.

Right Before Sugar Bowl Kickoff

Bask in the knowledge that if luck is real you have invited it into your world. You helped others shake their groove thing. You're like Spinderella.

As fond as we are of our little rituals, I imagine that fan superstitions are infuriating to coaches and players who work absurd hours, push themselves year round, study their opponents, and endure physical and mental attacks under the gaze of thousands. Let's say you just finished holding back a murderous pass rush for three hours despite a high ankle sprain to give your quarterback enough time to exploit that one weakness in the defense you've spent untold hours studying over the course of the week. "Hell yeah we won!" a nearby fan says. "We never lose when I'm wearing my lucky shirt." You kill him, right?

But we can't stop. From ancient Romans to Napoleon to OWB, we do things that we know are silly just in case they are not. Eat your peas and greens. For the greater good.