A taste of luck: Three ways to start the new year

Keevil & Keevil's beloved ham biscuit. Photo: Morgan Salyer Keevil & Keevil’s beloved ham biscuit. Photo: Morgan Salyer

New Year’s is more of a drinking-and-kissing holiday than one meant for feasting. But don’t let a good start-of-the-year meal go overlooked, especially if you might leave some luck on the table. We asked some local food folks to cook us up New Year’s Day nosh that was traditional (to capitalize on all that good fortune) in its ingredients, but slightly left of center in execution.

The ingredient: pork

The dish: Keevil & Keevil Grocery and Kitchen’s Ham Biscuits, courtesy Harrison Keevil

Because pigs are a symbol of prosperity (they root around with their nose in a forward motion), many people believe eating pork will bring progress in the new year. Chef/owner Harrison Keevil thinks ham biscuits—rather than a tenderloin or pork chop—is the ticket. He makes these little beauties every day in his Hinton Avenue store and insists on country ham from Edwards, a Virginia smokehouse based in Surry.

The recipe: ham biscuits

6 cups AP flour

1 tbsp. salt

4 tbsp. baking powder

1 lb. very cold unsalted butter

3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients. Using a box grader, grate the cold butter in to the dry mixture. Add milk.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the mixture until the milk is incorporated fully. On a floured work surface, put the mixture on the table and sprinkle with additional flour. Pat down the dough until it’s approximately half an inch thick. Fold top half of dough over bottom half, turn and pat down to half an inch. Repeat the process six times. On the final fold, cut the dough half an inch thick and cut biscuits 2 inches by 2 inches (cut straight down when cutting dough). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Slice two pounds of ham, then assemble biscuit by slicing it in half and placing the ham inside.

Angelo Vangelopolous. Photo: Amy Jackson Smith

The ingredient: greens

The dish: Greens and Beans (aka Kale Minestrone), courtesy Angelo Vangelopoulos at Ivy Inn

It’s a no-brainer that greens, the color of four leaf clovers, jade jewelry, and, obvs, money, will usher in prosperity. Ivy Inn’s Angelo Vangelopoulos suggests a heary kale soup with local ingredients—he digs Whisper Hill and Broadhead Mountain kale (found at the Charlottesville City Market).

The recipe: Greens & Beans (aka Kale Minestrone)

1 1/2 cups dried beans (cannellini, Great Northern, Pinto)

2 quarts vegetable stock or water, (extra for adjusting texture)

1 bouquet garni (tied bundle of 1/2 bunch thyme, 1/2 bunch rosemary, 2 bay leaves)

Olive oil, as needed

1 onion, medium dice

1 leek, small dice (soak and wash in lots of water, drain)

2 carrots, peeled, medium dice

2 celery stalks, medium dice

1 tbsp. chopped garlic

2 cups chopped canned tomato

6-8 medium red potatoes, washed, large dice

1 1/2 lbs. kale (remove stems, wash, cut into pieces)

Salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, hot sauce, and Worcestershire to taste

Soak beans six hours or overnight in double the volume of water. Drain, then put them into a large pot and cover with stock by at least 2 inches and add the bouquet. Simmer gently for one to two hours until the beans are tender. Add more stock or water to keep the beans wet and saucy. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat until shimmering and sweat the onions, leek, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt and pepper until translucent (approximately eight to 10 minutes). Add the garlic, then cook another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, simmer gently another 10 minutes. Add a cup of stock and the potatoes, simmer 10 minutes.

When the beans are fully cooked, add the vegetables and tomato, add the kale, replenish with a little more stock as needed, and simmer five to 10 minutes or until the kale and potatoes are tender.

Check seasoning; add vinegar, hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper as needed.

Serve with a healthy scoop of pesto* on top, a little extra parmigiano, and a healthy glug of good olive oil.

*Kale pesto

In a small food processor, grind 1/2 bunch of kale, 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts, and 4 cloves of roasted garlic into a paste, adding a little oil at a time. Add 2 tablespoons of parmigiano and seasonings (salt and red pepper flakes to taste) and combine.

The Age of Sail. Photo: Alec Spidalieri

The ingredient: Pomegranate

The drink: The Age of Sail

Probably the New Year’s gods are looking for a more traditional interpretation of the use of pomegranate (in Greece, tradition says smash the pom against a door to see how many seeds scatter, symbolizing the amount of luck you’ll have in the new year). But we couldn’t ignore a celebration’s main ingredient: the cocktail. Junction’s Alec Spidalieri recommends his tweaked take on Prohibition-Era El Presidente, using a homemade pomegranate grenadine.

The recipe: The Age of Sail

1.5 oz. Rhum Barbancourt 5-Star Reserve

1.5 oz. Contratto Bianco

.25 oz. Amaro Montenegro

.25 oz. Pomegranate grenadine*

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with ice until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Cut a length of orange peel and express the citrus oil over the surface of the cocktail. Garnish the glass with the peel and serve.

*Pomegranate grenadine

Combine 2 cups POM Wonderful Juice, 2 cups white sugar, 2 oz. pomegranate molasses, .5 oz. orange blossom water, and 1 oz. vodka in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl. Blend with an immersion blender, then let settle for 30 minutes or so. Blend again, then fine-strain to remove any unwanted textures or clumps. Keep refrigerated in a clean container up to one month. Yields 1 quart.

Posted In:     Knife & Fork,Magazines

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