New Year’s Day in the American South is celebrated in many families with Hoppin’ John, a stew made with black eyed peas. Some people add a penny or other small trinket to the beans when serving them. Whoever finds it is promised especially good luck in the new year. As many recipes can be found for Hoppin’ John as there are cooks who make it, so use this one as a foundation for creating your own version.
New Year’s Hoppin’ John (vegetarian and meat versions)
Basic Black-Eyed Peas
Each cup of dry black eyed peas will make 3 cups of cooked peas. Note: If you don’t have time to soak your black-eyed peas overnight, you can purchase Stahlbush Island black-eyed peas found in our frozen section and skip this step.
3 c. dried black eyed peas (BEP)
Water to cover by 5 inches
- Cover BEP with water (over the peas by 5 inches) and allow to soak overnight unless you will be pressure-cooking them.
- Drain water from BEP; cover by 1 inch with water; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover, but leave the lid slightly ajar, and cook for about 40 minute.
- Drain and keep in fridge to use in each recipe.
Cooking Tips: Unlike the dried beans they resemble, BEPs are not bland—they taste like ramped up springtime green peas! So you can treat them to vivid, high seasoning or allow their own flavor to dominate. Even then, their texture is slightly firm—again, very unlike that of their cousins, the dried beans. If you want them to be soft(ish), cook for another 20 minutes. You can pressure-cook BEPs in 8–10 minutes, no presoaking needed. Let the pressure drop normally afterward.
New Year’s Hoppin’ John
Where to start? So many, many versions! We suggest you start by picking your meat, if you’re making a meaty version. Salt pork is traditional; Mississippi Market’s Pasture Pride non-nitrated bacon is a terrific choice; so is chorizo or our Mississippi Market Made hot or sweet pork sausage. Those preferring a vegetarian version should consider the Tofurky or Field Roast meatless Italian sausages.
1/2 lb. salt pork, bacon, ham hocks, or sausage, sliced or cubed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
6 c. cooked BEP, drained
Chicken broth or water to cover (about 4 c.)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 c. long-grained white rice
Sprig of fresh thyme
Red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar or other acid
- Heat a heavy pot on medium, and when a drop of water dances across the bottom, add salt pork, bacon, ham hocks, or sausage. Cook until enough fat tries out of the meat that you can fry onion in it. (For a vegetarian version, use 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil as the fat.)
- Add red onion and cook until it becomes transparent. Only then add minced or mashed garlic, and do not allow it to brown, lest it become bitter.
- Add cooked and drained BEPs and just enough broth or water to cover. Turn heat down, and simmer with lid slightly ajar, for 25 minutes.
- Taste BEPs, and add salt and pepper to taste. Then add rice, a sprig of thyme, and a shake of red pepper flakes. (You can use dried thyme, but it isn’t as flavorful.) Simmer until rice is cooked (15–20 minutes); you may need to add some more broth, but do not drown the dish; your aim is for the texture to be thick and moist, not thin and watery.
- Brighten up the flavor by adding a bit of acid: cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, lime juice. If your Hoppin’ John isn’t lively enough for you, try adding some Sriracha sauce or vinegar-pepper sauce.
Serve with the traditional Southern collard greens. Don’t forget to add a fortune-telling coin or trinket before serving!