Are you looking for a delicious, soulful way to bring good luck into your life this New Year?
Then start here with this Black folks’ New Year’s soul food menu!
What traditions do Black folks have on New Year’s Day?
Black folks, especially in the deep South, insist that good luck on New Year’s day starts with a man being the first visitor to come to your door.
Not a woman.
I dunno why?
But my mother-in-law tells a heart-warming and nostalgic story of her neighbor, Mr. Frank, who made his annual 7 am round to ring her doorbell every New Year’s Day.
Like a good neighbor, Mr. Frank intentionally made it a point to be the first person to greet her at her door. “Happy New Year!” he’d say to usher in the Southern tradition of good luck!
Mr. Frank did this for years. Even after my mother-in-law moved out of the same neighborhood.
He continued to usher in good luck for her all the way until the year he passed away.
African-American New Year’s soul food traditions
More Southern traditions include starting the New Year with a prosperous meal. For Black folks, that begins with black-eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens (or mix ’em both with rice for Hoppin John), and ham or pork jowl.
Why do African Americans eat black eyed peas?
Black-eyed peas are a New Year’s supper tradition enjoyed by many Southerners and Black folks with the idea that this meal will usher in prosperity for the New Year.
Legend has it that the Union Army came across standing fields of black-eyed peas before Sherman’s March, winning the Civil War. After that, black-eyed peas became a symbol of abundance and emancipation for African Americans freed on New Years Day post-war.
The best Black History Month soul food recipes & Black history food facts. What's the difference? Southern food, soul food & Black folks food
But, unfortunately, this story is more fanciful than fact. Juneteenth history reveals many truths about our ancestors’ emancipation taking much longer.
Why do people eat pork jowl on New Year’s Day?
While pork jowls are used in meals and recipes throughout the year, this dish is highlighted on New Year’s as a deep South tradition, especially among Black people.
Legend believes that pork on New Year’s will usher in good fortune and prosperity since pigs forge in a forward direction. So the wish is for the New Year to move you forward too!
Some folks even believe that the bigger the pig (the more pork you eat on New Year’s), the fatter your purse will become – like the pig!
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What are the best New Year’s soul food desserts?
What do you think of these New Year’s soul food recipes?
Do you have different New Year’s food traditions?
Which entrées from this New Year’s soul food menu will you add to your feast?
Leave your answers in a comment below!
If you like this recipe, you’ll love these Instant Pot soul food recipes HERE and the best cornbread recipes and cornbread dressings HERE.
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- Air fryer
- 12 oz bacon thick slices
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (1 teaspoon if you like it hot!)
- Mix together the brown sugar, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes in a medium-sized bowl.
- Cut the bacon strips in half for a proper pork jowl size to better fit in the air fryer.
- Then lay the bacon out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Generously drizzle the maple syrup over the bacon strips.
- Next, spread a generous amount of the brown sugar seasoning on the bacon.
- Transfer the bacon to your air fryer basket or air fryer tray.
- Air fry at 350 degrees F for 8-9 minutes (8 minutes for soft bacon and 9 minutes for crunchy bacon).
- Place the cooked pork jowls on a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet to cool for about 5 minutes. The bacon will continue to get crispy as it cools.
- Repeat the above steps until all the bacon is air-fried, as it’s not likely that it will all fit in the air fryer in one batch.
- Serve Black folks pork jowls with cornbread, collard greens, and black-eyed peas or Hopin John, and enjoy!
- Depending on the size of your air fryer basket or tray, you may need more than one round of air frying to cook all the bacon.
- After the cooking time has finished, you can air fry in 1-minute increments until you’re satisfied with the crunchiness.
- You can crumble jowl bacon with crispy skin to make bacon bits!
- Be sure to let the slices fully cool. This will allow the caramelized sugar to harden.