Hoppin’ John for a Lucky New Year

In the South, it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day. Last year, I was in Richmond, and I made the mistake of waiting until December 31 to buy a can of black eyed-peas. There wasn’t a can left! So, this would be a good time to shop for some black eyed peas, if you’d like to attract money in the new year. According to Wikipedia, there is a tradition of leaving 3 peas on your plate for prosperity in the new year. 

You can buy black-eyed peas in the can, and even black eyed peas and rice (Hoppin’ John) in the can.  I tried it and it’s not bad, but it is really salty and pretty spicy. This brand also makes seasoned collard greens. I like those, too.

Of course, you could make Hoppin’ John from scratch and I think it would taste better. I have made vegetarian Hoppin’ John by sauteing onion, garlic, green pepper, celery and tomatoes (canned tomatoes would be fine) and then adding canned, rinsed black eyed peas and cooked rice. That was a quick version and it was very good. You could put it in Mason Jars and gift it on New Year’s Day, if you are visiting. This isn’t a picture of my dish but the Wikipedia picture is pretty much how it looked:

The way I prepare collard greens is less slow-cooked Southern-style and more heart-healthy-style. I cut out the big, tough central ribs and quickly saute the chopped leaves in olive oil, lemon and garlic until they are bright green. I don’t add meat and they don’t take long to cook.  This recipe for quick Brazilian-style collard greens is just about exactly how I chiffonade chop and cook mine. I think they would be a great complement to the hearty dish of Hoppin’ John.

I discovered a recipe for Hoppin’ John while babysitting for a little girl and it was in her copy of The Disney Princess Cookbook. It had so many good recipes, I ordered my own copy from eBay. Here is a recipe for Hoppin’ John. It is ascribed to Tiana, the heroine in The Princess and the Frog.

Tiana’s Hoppin’ John

Gather:

  • A metal strainer or steamer
  • A large saucepan
  • A large skillet with lid

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of black eyed peas (dried) – check for any little stones before cooking
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 lb baked ham, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp of celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup long grain rice

Directions:

  1. Rinse the black eyed peas in a metal strainer, then put them in a large saucepan.
  2. Pour in 4 cups of water. Bring the beans to a boil and cook them for 2 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and let the beans stand for 1 hour.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add ham, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Cook the mixture until the onion is transparent, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and their liquid to the skillet and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cover the pan and continue cooking until the beans are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Pour in one more cup of water and stir in the rice. Cover the skillet and continue simmering for about 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  6. Stir and serve.

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