Food is a cultural phenomenon that ignores geographical boundaries. Across countries, you'll find numerous variations on the same theme — New Year's meals that bring you luck — but they all share one commonality: simplicity.
New Year’s Day in the American South means a big dish of Hoppin' John. In this iconic peas and rice dish, black-eyed peas symbolize coins, and many Southerners bolster this superstition by placing coins under the serving bowls or in the Hoppin' John itself. The number of leftover peas is also important — if three remain after your last spoonful, the coming year will bring you romance and good luck.
Pork is common in several South American countries as a symbol of prosperity. On New Year’s Day, Cuba does roast suckling pig, while Brazil goes with a regional pairing of lentil and pork. To bring the Latin-American feel to your kitchen this holiday, utilize the rich pan drippings from any pork dish in a complementary sauce. Make a silky pork gravy using your Vitamix machine by adding the pan drippings, 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 cups of chicken stock to the container. Blend the ingredients for 45 seconds at high speed and transfer to a saucepan. Bring the gravy to a gentle simmer and let it cook until fully thickened, about 12 minutes.
The Chinese often choose fish for New Year's based on their names — a few varieties have names phonetically similar to phrases associated with prosperity. For example, catfish sounds like "year surplus" and crucian carp sounds like "good luck" in certain dialects.
If you’re embracing this lucky New Year’s dish, use your Vitamix blender to put together a quick sauce to accompany any fish. Try a simple lemon-and-butter emulsion using the juices rendered from the fish during cooking. For one whole fish, add the pan drippings, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1/2 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh herbs to taste. Blend the ingredients for 30 seconds at high speed and drizzle the finished sauce over the fish.
In Italy, cotechino e lenticchie — cotechino sausage cooked with lentils — serves as the New Year's Day promissory meal, as lentils purportedly grant you and your guests wealth in the coming year. Zuppa di Lenticchie, or lentil soup, is another common means of incorporating lentils into an Italian New Year's Day meal (and is a great alternative for vegans). Add one carrot, one stick of celery, one quartered onion, two garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the Vitamix machine.
Pulse the ingredients until the vegetables are coarsely chopped. Pour the soup base into a saucepan and add 2 1/2 cups of lentils, one bay leaf and kosher salt to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook it until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Season the soup to taste with kosher salt, fresh herbs and freshly ground black pepper. For a richer flavor, add two or three fully cooked Italian sauages to the soup in the last 10 minutes of cooking.