Thursday, December 31, 2020


When you cook your black-eyed peas with rice, it is known as Hoppin' John. The southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's day is believed to have started after the Civil War. It was first planted as food for livestock and the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as General Sherman's Union troops destroyed other crops. It became a nourishing food source for the surviving Confederates who considered themselves lucky. Serve them with either, collards, mustard greens, or turnip greens, which represents paper money, and cornbread, which represents gold. Adding a shiny impeccably clean penny to the pot of greens or Hoppin' John just before serving will bring extra luck to the one who finds it. Let everyone know to look for the penny so they don't choke. Flavor the peas with ham and bacon and the tradition is complete. These legumes are a good source of calcium, folate, fiber, and vitamin A. 

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
3 slices bacon, diced
1 T unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 t dried thyme or 1 sprig of fresh thyme
cup white rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup diced ham (preferably Virginia ham, optional)
Minced parsley, for garnish (optional)
Hot sauce, at the table

Pour black-eyed peas into a large bowl and sort through them to make sure there aren’t any small pebbles.

In the large saucepan, cook bacon pieces until crisp. 
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Pour out most but not all of the bacon grease and add the butter and sauté the onion and celery for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes.
Sauté another 2 minutes.
Add chicken stock, water, thyme, and black-eyed peas.
Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Cover and simmer slowly for 30 to 40 minutes.
Add rice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer slowly for 15 minutes, add a little more chicken stock or water, if too dry.

Stir in the diced ham (if using), cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes.
Spoon into a warm serving bowl.
Garnish with bacon and parsley and take hot sauce to the table.

Serves 4 to 6

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