American regional cuisine is peppered with examples of "lucky" New Year's Day foods: ham and black-eyed peas in the South, sauerkraut in the Midwest, a dozen grapes in Puerto Rico.
The Pacific Northwest, however, has largely passed on such traditions. Until now. Believing we can use all the luck we can get in 2012, Willamette Week tapped local culinary anthropologist Ken Rubin, who will open the Portland branch of the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in October, to develop our very own lucky New Year's Day dish.
"There are a lot of traditions of lucky foods to eat at the start of the new year," he says. "I wanted something sweet, which is often associated with luck, and something that uses things we have in abundance here."
So here's our own Lucky Bowl, built from beets, kale and lentils. It's vegetarian with an optional meat add-in. ("Perhaps 2012 will usher in a new year where Portland's pork fetish gives way to another food," Rubin says.)
Prepare and consume this meal and you'll live forever, get rich and have lots of sweaty sex. (Or, at least, eat a nice dinner.)
The Lucky Bowl
Serves four as an entree
In a large saucepan, simmer beets in salted water for 25-40 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, cool and slough of beet skins. Slice the peeled beets into 1/4-inch rounds and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium flame until it shimmers. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add vinegar and stir. Add kale, a few handfuls at a time, and cook until just wilted, 2 minutes or so. Add lentils and pears and fold in to incorporate. Reduce heat to low, gently add sliced beets and water or stock to moisten. Cover and cook for 7-10 minutes to allow kale, pears and beets to incorporate and mingle flavors. Season to taste.
SATURDAY DEC. 31