Every year for the past 20 years or so, on the last Wednesday on the calendar, I’ve championed my recipe for a classic dish that many of you have come to enjoy with great impunity on the first day of the new year.
I guess two decades of publication would make my Hoppin’ John recipe classified as a classic, right?
I’m not sure from which dusty corner of my mind that it sprang. But it was definitely a long time ago. I was searching for a creative way to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and it just sort of happened.
Anybody with a lick of sense knows that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a tradition that we hold near and dear in the sunny Southland.
To do so ensures good fortune in the coming year, and I would not think of challenging this tradition.
It goes hand-in-glove with eating something green on the first day of the year as a way of seeing to it that you will be blessed with monetary wealth, too.
History is silent as to what sort of greens, but collards, cabbage, turnip greens and even kale are good choices.
At the core of the tradition, however, is black-eyed peas. And based on your responses over the years, Hoppin’ John is a popular way to enjoy this tasty legume.
This recipe is very easy and it makes a lot – two ideas that I find appealing in these trying times.
Add a pone of cornbread to this menu and you will truly have a Happy New Year.
Or, at the least, a delicious one.
Makes 10-12 generous servings
- ½ pound good-quality bacon (or more if you like)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
- 2 cans chicken broth (or about 4 cups water)
- 1 pound smoked link sausage, chopped in 1-inch chunks
- 1 pound dry black-eyed peas (soaked and sorted)
- 1-2 bay leaves
- Cajun seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s More Spice) to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 can (14-ounce) diced tomatoes
- Rice, cooked (3 cups, give or take, depending on how thick you like your Hoppin’ John)
- Green onion, chopped, for garnish
Brown the bacon in a Dutch oven. Remove the bacon and eat it with your friends.Cook the chopped onion, bell pepper and celery in bacon grease until onions are clear.
Add garlic and cook for another minute or so, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add chopped sausage and brown.Add stock, peas and seasonings. Cover and let simmer for about 2 hours. Check for doneness of peas before proceeding.
Add tomatoes and cooked rice and cook, uncovered, on low heat, stirring often to prevent sticking.
Sprinkle chopped green onions on top prior to serving.
Note: Good smoked ham can be substituted for sausage. You can also use half ham and half sausage.
David Holloway’s Generous Portions column is a weekly staple in the Press-Register.