On cold, short winter days, we tend to turn to comfort food for, well, comfort. Food professionals—chefs, bakers, restaurant owners and the like—are no different. At this time of year, homey braises, filling pastas and old-fashioned desserts are on their menus at home. When we asked local food pros to share their favorite winter dishes, the ones they serve family and friends, we got recipes that run the gamut from an intoxicatingly complex pork-and-hominy stew to a simple meal ender of wine-poached pears with mascarpone whipped cream. Delish!
When Rob Archie was growing up, his grandmother used to make a rich, nourishing black-eyed pea soup. Later, his wife took over the soup-making duties. Archie, who owns three Sacramento restaurants (Pangaea Bier Café, Urban Roots and Bawk), looks forward to eating this soup every winter. “It’s warm, wholesome and delicious,” he says.
½ pound bacon, sliced
1 hot link, diced
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 ham shank or ham hock
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in water, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken bone broth
3 cups water
1 tablespoon Knorr Caldo de Pollo seasoning
red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2–3 cups chopped collard, mustard and/or turnip greens
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
In a frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add hot link and cook until bacon and hot link render their fat and begin to crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove meats from pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
In the same pan, add the oil to the bacon fat and sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery and carrots over medium heat until softened, 2–3 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except the greens, tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pan and stir. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low until the black-eyed peas are tender, 2–3 hours.
Remove the ham shank/hock. Take the meat off the bone, chop it up and add it back to the pot. Discard the bone.
Stir in the greens and canned diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue simmering until greens are cooked through. Top with shaved Parmesan and serve.