I hope you all are starting your New Year off right with a nice platter of Hoppin John...
What is Hoppin John you say? Well for those of you who aren't African-American, here is a brief history lesson...
Hoppin' John is a peas and rice dish served in the Southern United States. It is made with black-eyed peas (or field peas) and rice, chopped onion, sliced bacon, and seasoned with a bit of salt. Some people substitute ham hock, fatback, or country sausage for the conventional bacon; a few use green peppers or vinegar and spices. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia; black-eyed peas are the norm elsewhere.
In the southern United States, eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale, cabbage etc. along with this dish are supposed to also add to the wealth since they are the color of money.
Another traditional food, cornbread, can also be served to represent wealth, being the color of gold. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny," and further demonstrates one's frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.
- pound dried black-eyed peas
- 2 small smoked ham hocks or meaty ham bone
- 2 medium onions, divided
- 3 large cloves garlic, halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 can (10 to 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with chile peppers, juices reserved
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
- 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 green onions, sliced
In a large Dutch oven or kettle, combine the black-eyed peas, ham bone or ham hocks, and 6 cups water. Cut 1 of the onions in half and add it to the pot along with the garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the beans are tender but not mushy, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the ham bone or hocks, cut off the meat; dice and set aside. Drain the peas and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf, onion pieces, and garlic.
Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and simmer until the rice is almost tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Mince the remaining onion then add to the rice along with the peas, tomatoes, and their juices, red and green bell pepper, celery, jalapeno pepper, Creole seasoning, thyme, cumin, and salt. Cook until the rice is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the sliced green onions and the reserved diced ham. Serve with hot sauce and freshly baked cornbread.