What better way to start the New Year than with a nice hot bowl of Hoppin’ John. This traditional southern dish is found in most southern states, but especially in the Carolinas. There are many variations, but traditionally they will have black-eyed peas, rice, and pork served with a side of collard greens and golden cornbread.
Each item on the plate has a symbolic meaning for the New Year. The black-eyed Peas “coins,” the collard greens “greenbacks,” and the cornbread “gold.” If you add tomatoes, those represent “health.” This delightful dish should be eaten first thing on New Year’s Day and is assured to bring the one eating it luck, health, and money.
Hoppin’ John Recipe
Recipe courtesy of A Chef’s Life
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 cup dried black-‐eyed peas, cowpeas or, red peas
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil of choice
- 1⁄2 cup chopped Spanish onion
- 1/3 cup diced double-smoked slab bacon
- 1 boneless ham hock, diced (1⁄4 lb. yield)
- 1 fresh chili pepper, slit down one side
- 1 Sprig of fresh thyme
- 6 cups water or stock
- 1 cup Long-‐Grain unconverted white rice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Sort and wash the peas, picking out stones. Reserve.
- Heat a 4-‐quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, then the bacon. Cook, stirring the bacon without browning. Add the onion and cooking until soft and translucent.
- Add the reserved cleaned peas to the pot, along with the ham hock, hot pepper, thyme, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 45 minutes until the beans are three-quarters tender; and not mushy.
Measure the liquid remaining in the pot. At this point, you should have 2 cups of liquid in the pot; adjust as needed. Add the rice to the pot along with 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Return the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15-‐20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the carry-‐over cooking finish the Hoppin’ John until the rice is tender. Serve hot or at room temperature.