Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hoppin' John -- For Good Luck During the New Year

Well, hi there. 

I had every (good) intention of adding lots of holiday recipes for you this just-ended season, but it didn't happen. Once the deadlines ended, the flu started -- and vice versa. 

Go figure. 

Instead, I'll be doing some January ideas that are frugal, yet tasty -- warm and rib-sticking. They'll get you through a cold, windy day, without stripping your pocketbook in the process.

Take Hoppin' John.

Wikipedia's version, with everything mixed in

The Brick grew up in North Carolina, with the Southern idea that black-eyed peas should be eaten for good luck during New Year's. My Michigan ties never talked about this...we had oyster stew, instead. (There is a lot of New Englander running around my genetic heritage -- my grandma's family came from New Hampshire. If you're thinking, "DAR, right?" Yes, yes, we are.)

Black-eyed peas are not 'peas,' so much as beans. They have a fine meaty flavor that is very appealing, and absorb other spices nicely. I like accenting them with a bit of ham. And wouldn't you know it, I've had a hambone waiting in the refrigerator.

HOPPIN' JOHN (The Country Way)

1 pound black-eyed peas
1 small chopped onion
1/2 chopped red or green pepper  and a handful of chopped celery (skip, if you don't have them)
2 teaspoons dried marjoram (or 1 tsp. marjoram, and 1 tsp. basil)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
a few shots of hot sauce
1 hambone, with some of the meat still on (or substitute a cup of chopped ham. Or bacon.)

Mix everything together, and cook on low (preferably in a crockpot) for 6-8 hours. Serve hot, ladled over rice.

Here's's version:

HOPPIN' JOHN (The Fancier Way)

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 small smoked ham hocks or meaty ham bone
  • 2 medium onions, divided
  • 3 large cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 can (10 to 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with chile peppers, juices reserved
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 green onions, sliced


In a large Dutch oven or kettle, combine the black-eyed peas, ham bone or ham hocks, and 6 cups water. Cut 1 of the onions in half and add it to the pot along with the garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the beans are tender but not mushy, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the ham bone or hocks, cut off the meat; dice and set aside. Drain the peas and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf, onion pieces, and garlic. Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and simmer until the rice is almost tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Mince the remaining onion then add to the rice along with the peas, tomatoes, and their juices, red and green bell pepper, celery, jalapeno pepper, Creole seasoning, thyme, cumin, and salt. Cook until the rice is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the sliced green onions and the reserved diced ham. Serve with hot sauce and freshly baked cornbread.

    Now don't you feel lucky?

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