7 Recipes for a Lucky Start to the New Year

For some people, New Year’s is all about the beverages. For others, the holiday is all about the food — a very specific food, in fact, as many intentionally eat certain foods on December 31 and January 1 as a way to channel good luck for the upcoming year.

Your New Year’s menu will likely differ based on where you live (and how superstitious you are), but should you be interested in continuing or starting a new tradition for the first day of the new year, we’ve rounded up 7 recipes that Americans commonly cook up on December 31 or January 1. We can’t guarantee that these foods will give you good luck, but we can promise they’ll be delicious.

Turkey, holiday table, food

Source: iStock

1. Hoppin’ John

Perhaps the most popular dish to serve on New Year’s Day is Hoppin’ John, a peas and rice plate that according to What’s Cooking America, is supposed to be eaten first thing on January 1 to maximize its good luck potential. Hoppin’ John is especially popular in the South, and certain varieties of it are rich in Cajun flavor. The bare bones of the dish are black-eyed peas, rice, sausage, and ham hock. If you’re looking to give it a try, follow this recipe from Food Network, developed by Emeril Lagasse. The total prep and cooking time will come to about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but it may bring you luck for 365 days.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large ham hock
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
  • Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 3 cups steamed white rice

Directions: Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.

Roasted pork

Source: iStock

2. Pork and Saukerkraut

Pork and sauerkraut are also two popular dishes to serve on New Year’s Day, and that’s because, according to a history provided by Epicurious, pigs symbolize progress, as “the animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving.” Many consumers in countries all across the world roast pig, and it is especially enjoyed in America, whether its eaters know the symbolism behind the dish or just consider it tradition. Here’s a recipe for Pork and Sauerkraut from Food.com, should you be interested in eating a dish that signifies wealth and prosperity in the new year.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds pork roast
  • 16 ounces sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped (divided)
  • ½ to 1 cup brown sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions: Combine sauerkraut, onion, half the garlic, apples, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Lay in bottom of either a 9-by-13-inch pan or crockpot.

Make a well in the middle of the sauerkraut and place roast in pan. Season roast with salt and pepper. Sprinkle roast with other half of garlic.

Bake covered in 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 3 hours or in crockpot on low for 8 hours.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

3. Cornbread

Much to the delight of many Americans (especially those in the South), cornbread is considered a lucky food thanks to its color that resembles gold, as highlighted by Woman’s DayCornbread can be made in a multitude of ways, but this recipe from Southern Living teaches you how to make it in a cast-iron skillet, yielding six servings. As long as you have cornmeal, you can master this easy quickbread recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons bacon drippings or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1¾ cups white cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Butter

Directions: Coat bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with bacon drippings; heat in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes. Whisk together buttermilk and egg. Add cornmeal, stirring well. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour batter into hot skillet. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Serve with butter.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Seafood Stew

Start 2015 off with seafood with this Seafood Stew highlighted by the Food Channel. According to the Food Channel, fish is considered a lucky New Year’s food, because it always swims forward, signifying progress and direction in the year ahead. Some countries’ consumers are very specific about what type of fish they’ll eat on New Year’s Day, but this highlighted Seafood Stew in particular centers on whitefish and shellfish. Give it a try and see if people are actually superstitious for good reason.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bunch fresh kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons dried basil
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ½ pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
  • 1¼ pounds haddock or cod fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks

Directions: Strip kale leaves from stems; discard stems. Place leaves in pot of water and agitate well to remove grit. Chop well; set aside. Pour oil into 4½- to 6-quart slow cooker. In the following order, layer onion, kale, pepper, mushrooms, garlic and bay leaves in cooker. Working over slow cooker, break tomatoes up with your hands and add them to the slow cooker. Add tomato juice from can, salt, basil, wine, and clam juice. Cover and cook on low setting for about 8 to 9 hours or high setting for about 5 hours.

Spoon a little of the broth into a small bowl. Stir in tomato paste then stir back into stew. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add parsley and mussels, pushing mussels down toward the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add haddock and bury slightly in broth. Turn to high setting and cook about 1 hour longer, gently stirring fish about midway. Discard any unopened mussels when serving.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Long Noodles

A Chinese dish is next, and that would be long noodles. Good luck never tasted so good. According to USA Today, the significance behind long noodles on New Year’s Day centers around the fact that noodles represent long life. So, if you want a lucky year, follow this recipe from Food Republic for Chinese New Year Long Noodles. Though this recipe enlists more than a handful of ingredients, the directions are comprehensive and the overall cooking time is only 10 minutes. With most Americans off work on January 1, we think you have time to master this.

Ingredients:

Marinade

  • 1½ teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese rice wine or gin
  • 1½ teaspoons ginger, finely sliced
  • ½ teaspoon thin or supreme soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • white pepper, to taste
  • ½ pound chicken, thinly sliced

Sauce

  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon dark soy
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • white pepper, to taste

Assembly

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ pound fresh egg noodles, cooked
  • 1½ tablespoons ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots strips
  • ¼ pound baby bok choy or Chinese broccoli
  • 5 black Chinese mushrooms soaked 30 minutes, stems discarded, sliced
  • 3 green onions, cut into 1½-inch pieces

Directions: For the marinade: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and reserve.

For the sauce: In a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and add chicken. Let stand for 30 minutes.

For assembly: Heat pan to high and add oil. Add garlic and cook until light brown. Add noodles to pan and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Add ginger, bok choy, and mushrooms and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chicken with marinade and cook for about two minutes or until chicken is almost cooked, while continually stirring. Add sauce mixture and cornstarch slurry, let come to a boil for about 1 to 2 minutes. It should thicken up. Add more cornstarch slurry if necessary. Garnish with green onions.

Lentils, pot, cooking

Source: iStock

6. Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Lentils are also commonly eaten on New Years because, as pointed out by Good Housekeeping, the legumes resemble coins, signifying good fortune and prosperity for the upcoming year. And luckily for us, lentils are delicious, especially in this Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup recipe highlighted by Good Housekeeping. This soup is not only simple — it’s also hearty, healthy, and soul-warming. It’ll start off your year on the right (healthy) foot, and may even award you some good luck.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • 1 cup(s) dried red lentils
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bag baby spinach

Directions: In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil on medium until hot. Add carrots and onion, and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Stir in cumin; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, lentils, 2 cups water, salt, and pepper; cover and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 8 to 10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in spinach.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

7. Orange and Brandy Cake

Just one last tradition to feature, and this is a sweet one. In many cultures, consumers indulge in round cakes on New Year’s Day because they symbolize things coming full circle. But that’s not all. Many of these cakes have a coin hidden inside, and Epicurious helps explain the tradition with the help of a recipe and explanation found in Aglaia Kremezi’s book, The Foods of the Greek Islands. Kremezi has a recipe for Orange and Brandy Cake in his text, explaining that when it is first cut, a piece is given to each family member, and whoever gets the symbolic, hidden coin gets a gift of money and is believed to start the year with an advantage. The below recipe is a formula from Kremezi’s mother’s arsenal, and yields one 10-inch round cake.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Whole blanched almonds

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter or butter and margarine and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the orange juice and brandy. Whisk together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and the zests in another large bowl. Add to the yolk mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated.

In a large clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan and shake gently to even the top. Decorate the top with almonds. Bake the cake for about 1 hour, or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan and serving.

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