Have you ever heard of the tradition of eating Hoppin John on New Year’s? Do you know what Hoppin John is? I had never even heard of it until last year when I made it for the first time. It was delicious and it’s now going to be our New Year’s Day traditional meal!
The Story of Hoppin John
In the southern states of the US, eating Hoppin John on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring those who eat it a year of good luck and prosperity. I know I can use that! The black-eyed peas are thought to symbolize pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes left under the bowls of peas. You’re supposed to also eat Hoppin John with collard (or mustard or turnip) greens, chard, kale, cabbage…basically any greens. Why? Because they add to the wealth since they are the color of money! You can also serve with cornbread since it is the color of gold.
What is Hoppin John?
Hoppin John is full of black-eyed peas, rice, onion, bacon, and depending on where you are from, other yumminess. Some use sausage instead of bacon or ham hocks. Some people put bell peppers in, others include vinegar. There are many variations to this dish.
- 1/2 lb. cajun, kielbasa or andouille sausage (or substitute 1/2 lb. bacon, cut in pieces)
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, about 2 cups
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 heaping teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (if you like heat)
- Salt to taste
- 4 cups of water or chicken broth
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- Scallions or green onions for garnish
- Slowly cook the sausage or bacon until crispy in a medium pot over medium-low heat.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and add the celery, onion, and green pepper and sautÃ© until they begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the black-eyed peas, bay leaf, and seasonings. Cover with 4 cups of water. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour, or longer if needed, until the peas are tender.
- While the peas are cooking, cook the rice separately according to package instructions.
- When the peas are done, drain out the remaining cooking water. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Taste the peas for salt and add more if needed. Add in the rice.
- Serve along side greens (collard greens, kale, or spinach). Garnish with chopped green onions.
Sounds great right? It’s easy to make and can feed an army by doubling or tripling the recipe. As I mentioned, there are many variations to this dish. I think this year I might do half sausage and half bacon. She Wears Many Hats has a Hoppin John recipe with ham hock and bacon. Once a Month Meals’ shares a Hoppin John crock pot recipe. And betsylife shares a really cool twist on the recipe by making Hoppin John with quinoa. Remember when I told you all about the White Trash Cooking cookbook? There’s a recipe in there for Hoppin’ John, and it couldn’t be simpler: