Hoppin' John Recipe and History
Black-Eyed Peas and Rice Recipe


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Eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year.
Rice for riches and peas for peace.
Southern saying on eating a dish of Hoppin' John on New Year's Day.
 


Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John

History of Hoppin John: Hoppin' John is found in most states of the South, but it is mainly associated with the Carolinas. Gullah or Low Country cuisine reflects the cooking of the Carolinas, especially the Sea islands (a cluster of islands stretching along the coats of south Carolina and northern Georgia). Black-eyed peas, also called cow peas, are thought to have been introduced to America by African slaves who worked the rice plantations. Hoppin' John is a rich bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with spicy sausages, ham hocks, or fat pork, and rice.

There are many variations to traditional Hoppin' John. Some cook the black-eyed peas and rice in one pot, while others insist on simmering them separately. Some also like to add the collard greens in the pot. The favorite way to eat a Hoppin’ John meal is with collard greens and corn bread. Each item on the plate has symbolic meaning for the New Year. Black-eyed Peas represent “coins,” collard greens represent money or “green backs”, corn bread represents “gold,” and if tomatoes are added to Hoppin’ John it symbolizes "health".

The first written recipe for Hoppin John appeared in The Carolina Housewife in 1847. Most food historians generally agree that Hoppin John is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean roots. There are many tales or legends that explain how Hoppin' John got its name:

It was the custom for children to gather in the dining room as the dish was brought forth and hop around the table before sitting down to eat.

A man named John came "a-hoppin" when his wife took the dish from the stove.

An obscure South Carolina custom was inviting a guest to eat by saying, "Hop in, John"

The dish goes back at least as far as 1841, when, according to tradition, it was hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled black man who was know as Hoppin' John.


Southern Superstitions about Hoppin' John:

This African-American dish is traditionally a high point of New Year's Day, when a shiny dime is often buried among the black-eyed peas before serving.

Whoever gets the coin in his or her portion is assured good luck throughout the year. For maximum good luck in the new year, the first thing that should be eaten on New year's Day is Hoppin' John. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, many southern families toast each other with Champagne and a bowl of Hoppin' John. If it is served with collard greens you might, or might not, get rich during the coming year.

If you eat leftover Hoppin' John the day after New Year's Day, then the name changes to Skippin' Jenny since one is demonstrating their determination of frugality. Eating a bowl of Skippin' Jenny is believed to even better your chances for a prosperous New Year! - Source: Beyond Black-Eyed Pease: New Year's good-luck foods, by Mick Bann, Dec. 26,2008, Austin Chonicle.

There is also another tradition in some parts of the South that you should count the number of peas in your serving to predict the amount of luck or wealth you will have for the coming year. If you leave three (3) peas on your plate when you are finished eating, then you New Year ahead will be filled with luck, good fortune, and romance. - Source: Wikipedia - Hoppin' John.
 


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Hoppin' John Recipe:

Recipe Type: Rice, Beans, Pork, Collard Greens
Cuisine: Southern, Cajun/Creole
Yields: 8 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Bean soak time: 1 to 2 hours
Stove Top cook time: 3 hr
Slow Cooker cook time: low heat 8 hr


Ingredients:

2 cups dried black-eyed peas
1 pound lean slab bacon or 1 pound meaty ham hocks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken broth/stock
*
2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
1 bunch collard greens (washed, stems removed, and leaves torn)**
1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste

* Learn how easy it is to make your own homemade Chicken Stock - Basic Chicken Stock.

** When buying collards, make sure to choose dark green leaves with no wilting or yellowness. Fresh collard greens may be stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. To prepared the greens, tear each leaf from its thick center stems; discard stems. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. The tender young leaves in the heart of the collard greens don't need to be stripped. Discard all stems. Set collard greens aside until ready to cook. Learn about the history of Collard Greens (Mess O' Greens).


Preparation:

Black-Eyed PeasBlack-eyed peas have a characteristic black spot, or "eye," on their cream-colored skin and are among the most recognizable legumes. Soaking is not essential for black-eyed peas, but cooking time can be shortened if they get a quick soak in hot water (as opposed to a longer one in cold water, like other beans). You can prepare black eyed peas many different ways, but they are best when cooked with a pork product.

Before preparing the black-eyed peas, sort through them thoroughly for tiny pebbles or other debris. Soak, rinse, and drain dried black-eyed peas. Place black-eyed peas in a large soup pot over medium-high heat and cover with cold water; bring just to a boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 to 2 hours. Drain and rinse beans.

If using bacon meat, heat bacon in skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until partially cooked; remove bacon from skillet and set aside. Drain most of the bacon fat and leave some in skillet to coat the bottom. Add onions and garlic and sauté for a couple minutes until onions appear translucent. (If you are using ham hocks, then use olive oil in the skillet to sauté onions).


Stove Top Preparation:

Using the same large soup pot, over medium-high heat, add soaked black-eyed peas, partially cooked bacon or ham hock, onion, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Add chicken broth; bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the peas are tender (do not boil as the beans will burst).

Remove bacon or ham hock and cut into bite-size pieces. Return meat to pot. Stir in rice and collard greens; cover, and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat, stir in vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Slow Cooker Preparation:

Hoppin' John Stew

Preheat Slow Cooker.

To the slow cooker, add soaked black-eyed peas, partially cooked bacon or ham hock, onion, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Add chicken broth and stir everything together. Cover with lid and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 to 5 hours until the peas are tender.

Lift the lid and remove the bacon or ham hock and cut into bite-size pieces. Return meat to pot. Stir in rice and collard greens; cover, and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat, stir in vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Happy New Year!

Makes 8 servings.


 



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