New Year’s Eve gets a lot of hype. But for lots of foodies, New Year’s Day is where the party is. And pork is almost always the star of the show.
From Europe to the American South, a pork dish on Jan. 1 is universally acknowledged to bring good luck.
“Tradition is on New Year’s Day you eat pork. It’s lucky,” said Lothar Erbe, owner of Lothar’s Butchery and Gourmet Sausages in Purcellville. Erbe is a classically trained butcher from Germany who’s been serving up handmade sausage and hand-cut meats in Purcellville for the last 10 years.
Erbe is from Frankfurt, and New Year’s tradition in central Germany is cured and smoked pork chops served with sauerkraut. German and American customers flock to the shop for those cured chops along with sauerkraut imported from Germany. But Erbe has some other pork-centric suggestions for New Years, including roast pork loins and crown roasts—loin with ribs attached and formed into a circle like a crown with the bones up, a dish that is not only tasty but impressive to look at. Erbe also suggests a pork fondue using small pieces of pork tenderloin cooked in palm oil. For beef lovers, prime rib is a popular choice throughout the holidays and is a great choice for a New Year’s lunch.
“Nothing is better than a real piece of meat when you have a hangover,” Erbe said with a laugh.
Trained in Frankfurt where he practiced his craft for nearly 30 years, Erbe met his wife June Bush, who’s originally from South Korea, in Germany. The couple relocated to Loudoun a dozen years ago for Bush’s job with United Airlines. Erbe opened his custom butchery and gourmet sausage shop 10 years ago and has been in his current location on Main Street for five years, building a reputation for handmade German-style sausages and fresh, high quality meats that he butchers from nose to tail. Bush now helps full time in the shop where Erbe works with his apprentice Nathan Chamberlain.
The larger than life Erbe is thinking about cured pork belly and beef short ribs, the traditional New Year’s meal in South Korea, where Bush says both the western and lunar new years are often celebrated.
“I think we’ll have a combined kimchi/sauerkraut mix,” Erbe said with a chuckle. “Her heritage and my heritage together.”
For Andrew and Liz Crush, owners of Spring House Farm who raise heritage breed pigs on their home farm near Lovettsville and on leased land across western Loudoun, ham is the traditional New Year’s Day dish.
Made with the rich and fatty pork from heritage Large Black pigs, Spring House hams are smoked with the rind on, leaving an extra layer of crispy goodness when cooked low and slow. Crush usually oven-cooks his New Year’s ham in a deep dish pan with apple cider at around 170 degrees for five or six hours then turns up the convection oven to 500 for 30 minutes or so.
“If everything goes right it will pop the skin,” he said, leaving a tasty, crunchy homemade pork rind.
And the hearty split pea soup Liz makes with the leftovers is another family favorite.
“It’s supposed to give you good luck for your crops and also fertility,” Andrew Crush said.
2018 was a big year for the Crushes who opened their new farm store on Hamilton Station Road earlier this year. Crush recommends pre-orders via the farm’s website for New Year’s hams, which can be picked up at the store.
Loudouners will soon be getting a taste of pork-centric delicacies Southside Virginia-style thanks to Ed Smith of Smiths of Mecklenburg. Smith’s handmade sausages, Carolina barbecue, soups and stews made their debut at Eat Loco’s indoor farmers market at One Loudoun just before Christmas and will return to One Loudoun on a regular basis starting in January
Smith, who’s based in South Hill in Mecklenburg County near the North Carolina border, knows all about traditional southern New Year’s Day cuisine. Smith’s New Year’s favorite is hog jowls. Pronounced with a long O, jowls are cured and smoked pork cheeks and are a southern New Year’s staple.
Greens are also an essential component for New Year’s Day southern style and are said to bring money in the new year. Smith is partial to collards, but “any greens will do,” he said. New Year’s Day legumes are another key element of a lucky new year. This often means black-eyed peas, although Smith is partial to their close cousins, Mississippi Silverskin or Crowder peas. Another Southside tradition, Smith says, is baked tomatoes, also known as tomato pudding, a rich mix of gently diced canned tomatoes, plenty of sugar, butter and loaf bread baked in a casserole.
And for that perfect finishing touch, Smith says: “Fix ‘em some corn bread and fry up some bacon.”
Lothar’s Butchery and Gourmet Sausages is located at 860 E. Main St. in Purcellville. The shop is generally open Wednesday through Sunday but will be open Monday, Dec. 31 until 1 p.m. for last minute New Year’s orders. Learn more at facebook.com/lotharsbutchershop.
The Spring House Farm Store is located at 16848 Hamilton Station Road, Hamilton and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information and pre-orders, go to springhouse.farm.
The Eat Loco One Loudoun Farmers Market is open year-round on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Atwater Drive at One Loudoun in Ashburn. For more information about the market, go to eatloco.org. To check out the Smiths of Mecklenburg menu, go to smithsofmecklenburg.com or facebook.com/smithsofmecklenburg.