Happy New Year from
! (Photo by Pam Wiley) Pittsylvania County
For as long as I can remember, I've heard people talk about eating pork on Dec. 31 and/or Jan. 1 for good luck in the new year. My family frequently ate like that too.
It was not until this year, however, that I learned the origins of that tradition. In October I interviewed a pork producer in
who said her family celebrates the new year with a pork roast or other pork entrée. Pittsylvania County
“It’s just a German thing,” she said, “because pigs root forward.”
It all goes back to the belief that the things you do—or eat—on New Year’s Day will have an impact on how your year unfolds. Pigs, when they eat, push forward, while chickens scratch backward and cattle stand still.
Of course, there are all knds of regional and cultural variations and side dishes, like black-eyed peas or sauerkraut. A former coworker who grew up in
, told me that for the luck to work, the pork and greens and black-eyed peas had to be already cooking on the stove at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The greens, she said, represent paper money, and the legumes represent coins. Charleston, S.C.
Here’s two pork recipes for the weekend, one for Saturday night, and one for Sunday morning, both from the National Pork Board.
(National Pork Board)
Italian Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
½ cup green onions, sliced
6-ounce package long-grain and wild rice mix, cooked according to package directions and cooled
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
10-ounce container Alfredo sauce, refrigerated
3 tablespoons chardonnay or other dry white wine
Heat oven to 425°.
Cut a lengthwise slit in each pork tenderloin, cutting to but not through the other side. Set pork aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and green onions, and cook until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked rice, pecans and parsley, setting aside ¾ cup of the rice mixture.
Spoon remaining rice mixture into a 1½-quart casserole dish; cover, and set aside.
Divide the ¾ cup rice mixture evenly between the slits in pork tenderloins. Close the stuffed tenderloins and secure with toothpicks.
Stir together Italian seasoning and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the pork tenderloins. Place the pork on the rack of a shallow roasting pan.
Roast tenderloins, uncovered, for 25-27 minutes, until internal temperature is 145°, followed by a 5-minute rest time.
Bake rice mixture alongside tenderloins.
Meanwhile, for sauce, combine Alfredo sauce and wine in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until bubbly.
To serve, spoon rice mixture onto a serving platter. Remove toothpicks from tenderloins. Cut tenderloins into 1" pieces and arrange on rice mixture. Serve with sauce.
(National Pork Board)
Ham and Cheese Muffins
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil
8 ounces boneless ham steak, diced
1½ cups grated Cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 400°.
Lightly grease and flour 12 regular muffin tins.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and oil in a small bowl. Stir in the ham and cheese. Using a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined. Do not over-mix.
Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tins, approximately ¾ full. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove from muffin tin and let cool.
Substitutions: Try 6 slices of pan-broiled and diced bacon or 8 ounces of cooked, crumbled and drained pork sausage in place of the ham.