I learned a few years ago that this dish, Hoppin’ John, is a New Year’s Day tradition, probably more popular in the South. It’s said to symbolize good health and prosperity in the coming year. The black-eyed peas are supposed to represent coins, which tie in with prosperity. And since black-eyed peas are actually beans, they’re good for you (they have lots of fiber and are a good source of potassium, protein, and iron), so that certainly ties in with the “good health” part of the symbolism.
In addition to black-eyed peas, Hoppin’ John also has chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and some canned diced tomatoes with chiles. This is traditionally made with a smoked ham hock, but you can use chopped smoked ham or smoked sausage instead. I actually used veggie sausage in this and it tastes good that way too–something to keep in mind if you’re not a meat-eater. The taste of this dish reminds me a little of Red Beans and Rice–if you like that, you’ll probably like Hoppin’ John!
HOPPIN’ JOHN by NancyC, adapted from Betty Crocker
Makes about 8 servings
- 1 (1-lb. bag) dried black-eyed peas (about 2 cups), soaked overnight and rinsed
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil
- 1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 medium size green or red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups chopped smoked ham or smoked sausage (or use 1 smoked ham hock)
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 6 cups hot cooked brown or long grain rice
- Optional: 1–2 green onions, sliced, and/or 1–2 Tablespoons bacon bits or crumbles, for garnish
Sort and rinse peas, then place in a large pot and soak in 6–8 cups of water (enough to cover the peas) for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Drain and rinse soaked peas; set aside.
In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, celery, and green or red bell pepper; sauté about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic; sauté about 2 minutes.
Add chopped ham, smoked sausage or ham hock. Then add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and cayenne pepper. Heat mixture to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, then stir in soaked peas. Add salt to taste. Cook 50 to 60 minutes or until peas are tender. If using a ham hock, remove ham from bone–discard bone, shred ham, and stir ham into the mixture.
Stir all ingredients and garnish with sliced green onion and/or bacon bits or crumbles, if desired. Serve over hot cooked rice.
If you want a real Southern-style meal, serve your Hoppin’ John with collard greens and cornbread. And have a Happy New Year! 🙂