Happy New Year!
I suspect I’m not the only one making the annual comment “wow, where did the last year go?!” Now here we are on the start of a new decade as well! Hard to imagine that it’s been a decade since the Y2K concern and now people are looking toward 2012 to see if the Mayans really did predict the end of the world!
Sounds like a good time to dig into the food and culture traditions for new years. Most food traditions surrounding New Year’s foods are aimed at encouraging abundance and prosperity in the coming year. One of the most common traditions throughout many cultures is that of eating greens. Whether they be the collard and mustard greens of the southern U.S. or cabbage and sauerkraut from central Europe, greens are considered a symbol of folded currency. It’s said that the more you eat the more prosperous you’ll be in the coming year. Of it were only that easy…I’d start eating them this morning and not stop until tomorrow night! On second though, that would probably bring more prosperity for the Ty-D-Bol man!
Beans and dried peas are also a common element found in new year’s food traditions. Again, prosperity comes to play with legumes being a symbol of coins and money.
Whether you’re eating greens, beans, or both, chances are they’re going to be cooked, served, and consumed with some form of Pork. The pig has long considered to be a symbol of good luck. Some say that because pigs can’t turn their heads backward without turning their body (and thus they’re still looking forward) they symbolize good fortune ahead. Still others say that the fat and richness of the meat once again symbolize wealth in the new year. Whatever the case, Pork is commonly eaten in the form of spareribs, sausage, whole roast pigs, and any other form you might want during this time.
As for me, pork and greens symbolize good eating! Mom always liked to fix Sauerkraut and spareribs on New Years day. The recent round of heavy-duty cold weather (and probably some sentimentality) recently got me to playing around with sausage, cabbage and potatoes in the pressure cooker.
Kielbasa, Cabbage & Potatoes
I recently came across this recipe while browsing “Pressure Perfect” by Lorna Sass. Nothing beats a pressure cooker for quick flavorful meals and this one sounded perfect for a cold winter’s night. I tweaked it slightly by adding in the apple which is often paired with onions for the touch of sweetening that it offers.
Serve with rye or pumpernickel bread and butter to help sop up the juices.
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons coarse-grained dijon mustard
1 large onion, diced 1/2-inch
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced 1/2-inch
6-8 small red new potatoes (about 1/2 pound), washed and cut 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 lb. Cabbage, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons caraway seed
1 lb. Smoked Polska Kielbasa sausage, sliced lengthwise and then into half-moons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons of dried dill weed)
Combine chicken stock and mustard in the bottom of a 4-quart pressure cooker. (If using dried dill, add it at this time as well. If using fresh, it goes in at the end.) Whisk to mix the mustard into the stock. Add the onion, apple, potatoes, and half of the cabbage to the pot. Sprinkle the cabbage with the caraway seeds and add half the sausage. Add remainder of the cabbage along with the remaining sausage. Season with salt and pepper.
Attach lid and place pressure cooker over high heat and bring up to full pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Quick-release the pressure (manner will depend on the model of your pressure cooker) and then stir in the fresh dill. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.