Hoppin’ John for New Years
In some Southern homes, it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without Hoppin’ John, a dish featuring black eyed peas, which are believed to bring good luck in the coming year.
In her 1991 cookbook New Southern Cooking, Southern Food Maven Natalie Dupree explains, “As the saying goes, ‘turnip greens on New Year’s Eve bring you greenbacks all year long, and black-eyed peas bring you a lucky day for each one you eat.” I imagine one would work hard to eat 365 of them, and then start fresh again.
The liquid used to cook black-eyed beans, greens, and other Southern vegetable dishes becomes very flavored and is often referred to as “pot likker”. These juices are usually served over the beans or cooked produce like leafy greens, for extra flavor, moisture, and nutrition…plus as in almost all cultures, cooking is often centered in a “waste not, want not” ethos, spurred by the need to cook in hardship at some point in history. Throwing that nutritious cooking liquid away would have been super wasteful.
Hoppin’ John: In many Southern homes, it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without Hoppin’ John, a dish featuring black eyed peas, which are believed to bring good luck in the coming year.Tweet This
Shortcut Hoppin’ John with Canned Black Eyed Peas
I readily acknowledge that I am:
- Not Southern. Well, that’s not completely true; my maternal grandfather was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia though a New Yorker by the time I was born.
- Not an expert on Hoppin’ John – see “Not Southern”, above.
- Taking some liberties with this recipe, and possibly causing some Southern people to shrug or raise their eyebrows. This is a Northerner’s shortcut version of a traditional Southern recipe, and that’s that.
Traditional Hoppin’ John is at its core black eyed peas cooked with some piece of pork in water which becomes the “pot likker”. It could be pretty much any piece of the pig, meat, salted or smoked or cooked in another way, or a leftover bone with some meat attached.
Canned Bean Hoppin’ John
This recipe is all about ease of execution. For starters, it calls for canned black eyed beans. Not fresh, not dried and cooked, not even frozen. Canned, rinsed and drained. And I used chopped cooked ham. Not a ham hock, not fatback, not a ham bone, but chopped cooked ham, which may or may not come from a deli counter. I definitely have made this when I’ve had a leftover ham bone in the house, but I cannot pretend that’s a regular occurrence.
Please, please adjust the recipe to your Hoppin’ John memories, if you have them. After the recent times we’ve all had, there should be enough good luck to go around.
What to Serve with Hoppin’ John:
Other Bean Side Dish Recipes:
- Black-Eyed Pea Salad
- White Bean and Hearts of Palm Salad
- Cannellini Bean Dip with Lemon and Parmesan
- Chickpea and Fava Bean Salad
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion , chopped
- 1 green bell pepper , cored, seeded and chopped
- 2 stalks celery , chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped sliced ham
- 2 (15-ounce) cans black eyed peas , drained and rinsed
- ½ cup less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 scallions , trimmed and sliced, plus more to serve if desired
- ½ cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley , plus more to serve if desired
- 3 cups hot cooked white or brown rice
- Heat the oil. Saute the onion, pepper, and celery until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the ham and cook, stirring often, until you can smell the garlic about 1 minute more.
- Add the drained black-eyed peas and the broth and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions and parsley.
- You can either combine it with the rice in a mixing bowl, or serve the black eyed peas over the hot rice. Sprinkle with the additional chopped scallions or flat-leaf parsley if desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.