A few years ago, I started making Hoppin’ John on its traditional New Year’s Day. The superstition says eating this with greens and cornbread is good luck and fortune for the new year. I just find it a healthy way to start the year after holiday indulgences.
3 slices Bacon, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped (I’ve also used Jalepino peppers without the seeds)
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
½ pound Dried Black Eyed Peas
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika (optional)
3-4 cups water
2 cups cooked Rice (Your choice of the kind. Carolina rice is the traditional, but I’ve used rice and grain blends, brown rice, and even basmati rice.)
2 Scallions, chopped
In a pot cook bacon until crisp. Carefully add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook until slightly brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Add dried peas (Yes dried! It makes this so simple.), thyme, bay leaf, Cajun seasoning and any other optional spices. Stir to combine.
Add enough water to cover the peas. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes then uncover until water is absorbed, about another 30 minutes. If you find the peas are still hard and you are running out of liquid, add a bit more. If you find the peas are getting too soft, pour misture into a fine strainer then return to pot.
Cook rice while pea mixture is simmering.
Once peas are soft but not mushy, remove bay leaf. Add cooked rice and chopped scallions. Stir together carefully not to create a mush.
Serve as is, or with sauteed collard greens or even spinach and corn bread to be traditional.
This freezes well so if you find you have too much to use, pop it into the freezer for a treat on a cold winter day.