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Classic New Years Black Eyed Peas Recipe: Hoppin' John

black eyed peas for hoppin' john

Image: Alejandro Photography for iStockphoto.com

The classic black eyed peas recipe for a lucky New Year is hoppin’ John. Traditionally eaten on the first day of the year, this healthful southern stew is thought to bring luck and prosperity. Even if it doesn’t, classic hoppin’ John is a healthy way to start 2011.

For a traditional southern New Year’s feast, serve your hoppin’ John with a side of collard greens and buttery cornbread. Happy New Year!

This recipe features easy-to-buy ingredients and subs out the traditional ham hock for bacon. If you can find a ham hock, by all means use that instead. Or, for a richer stew, use both!

Classic Hoppin’ John Recipe (adapted from The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook by Matt and Ted Lee)

1 cup dried black-eyed peas (or 2 cans)
1/4 lb. high-quality bacon (or small ham hock)
6 cups chicken broth
14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups rice
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Rinse and sort through the peas. Fill a medium bowl with cold water and soak the beans for 4 hours. If using canned beans, omit this step.

In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until the bacon is slightly crisp and has released the fat. If using a ham hock, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the ham hock on all sides. Feel free to use the ham hock and the bacon for a richer stew.

Add the onion and cook for another 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Then add the broth, ground pepper, pepper flakes and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil.

Let the mixture boil for 10 minutes. Drain the peas, add them to the stew and cook over medium-high heat for 25 minutes, or until the peas are tender but not mushy. For canned peas I would cut the cooking time to 10 – 15 minutes–you want the peas to absorb the flavors without getting overcooked. Add the tomatoes and rice, and cook, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove the stew from heat and let it sit covered for another five minutes, or until most of the liquid ha been absorbed. Gently stir the mixture and serve–preferably with a side of garlicky sauteed greens and a big hunk of corn bread.

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