Sure, the designation of when the New Year begins is a somewhat arbitrary division between calendar years decided centuries ago.
It's still a fine time to think back and look forward. And we could all stand a bit of luck, whether or not you believe in kismet.
One of my favorite New Year good luck foods is greens. I'm not talking salad here: I mean hardy greens like collards, mustard, turnip and, yes, the green-that-will-not-die, kale.
Tradition dictates that the greens for New Year's should be cooked a long, long time. That's the way they do it across many parts of the American South.
I often cook them that way, heating some garlic and chile in fat then leaving the greens to cook for hours. This year, though, I'm cheating and taking a cue from Brazil.
There, a type of collard greens are called couve and are a staple alongside the epic Brazilian dish feijoada, a black-bean stew loaded with a range of meats.
The collards are shredded then cooked quickly. Their grassy edges and chewy structure soften, collapsing into a pile of iron-rich intenseness.
Luck is a boon anytime. But if you can welcome luck into your life in minutes not hours, that's not luck. That's taking control of fate.
Quick Good Luck Greens
A wok is ideal, but a large, sturdy skillet would work, too. The tricks are high heat and constantly moving the shredded greens. If your skillet is small, cook the greens in two batches.
- One bunch collards or other hardy greens
- 2 tablespoons oil or fat, such as peanut oil, grapeseed oil, bacon fat or lard
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
Wash the greens well. Strip the leaves from the stems by either folding in half and tearing, or cutting the leaves from the stems with a sharp knife. Stack about 5 or so leaves on top of each other. Roll them lengthwise into a tight cigar. Cut the roll crosswise into extremely thin pieces. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
Heat the wok or skillet until it begins to smoke. Add the oil or fat and swirl. Working quickly, toss about a teaspoon of salt into the wok and swirl. Add the garlic and red chile flakes. Swirl.
Add the shredded greens and using tongs or a wooden spatula, stir-fry the greens until they collapse. (If they start to stick to the wok, add a bit of water.)
Transfer the greens to a bowl. Taste and add more salt, if needed. These greens keep in the fridge for about a week, should you want to spread your luck-conjuring over a few days.