The celebration of New Year is, undoubtedly, the perfect time to get closer to your beloved ones. It is time to review the passing year and make new resolutions for the upcoming year.
Each family has its ways of celebrating, but one thing that cannot be missed at any table is the food. It is well known that in Southern US cuisine the use of black-eyed peas, pork meat and cornbread are three essential items on every table.
One dish that is a standard New Year meal is Hoppin’ John. This delicious dish is how we welcome New Year, hoping we get luck and peace in the coming year.
Learn a bit of history about this traditional dish
Hoppin’ John has been in the New Year celebration in the south since the 1800s. It is a simple and copious dish with black-eyed peas, rice, onion, and bacon. It is served with cornbread, collard greens, and a good champagne toast.
If you want to get lucky in the new year, you have to eat a warm spoon of Hoppin’ John as your first meal.
Its origin is a bit uncertain, as well as its name, with many histories, but no one has been verified. One of them implies that African slaves introduced black-eyed peas and their ways of cooking during their work in the rice plantations.
As for the name, the most popular history is that a hobbled black man named Hoppin’ John sold peas and rice in the streets of Charleston. However, some people affirm that the name “Hoppin’ John” is most likely derived from the West African language Fulani, where the phrase hoppin jon means “rice and peas”. It is believed that the slaves brought this dish with them when they were brought to the United States to work in the fields.
Whatever the origin, it is a must-dish on every table at the New Year celebration.
More about Hoppin’ John
The core ingredients of a delightful Hoppin’ John are rice, black-eyed peas, and bacon. They have a specific meaning and symbolic importance for ensuring prosperity in the new year.
A Southern saying states the connotation of the dish “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.”
- Rice: For a delicate flavor, long-grain white rice is the right one. Try this carolinarice.com/products/white-rice/ for getting an exceptional dish. Rice’s symbolic meaning is abundance and richness.
- Black-eyed peas: They give a sweet and creamy texture to the dish. They represent coins and pennies.
- Vegetables: This dish includes onions, garlic, and bell pepper.
- Seasonings: They are simple but dense. It contains salt, black pepper, cayenne, and bay leaf.
- Bacon: It gives a smoky flavor to the meal. It symbolizes prosperity.
The accompaniments also have meanings:
- Collard greens: They are the traditional side dish and are cooked and fried in fat. The color of collard greens represents greenbacks and financial prosperity.
- Cornbread: The bright yellow color of this accompaniment denotes gold. It means the hope of spending more money.
The traditional recipe
Like most ancient recipes, it has plenty of variations with changes in some of the main ingredients. For example, some people use parboiled rice, ham, lima beans, or navy beans.
There is a vegetarian version with mushrooms and smoked paprika.
If you want to stay true to the traditional recipe, try the following one:
Ingredients (6 servings):
- 1 cup of dried black-eyed peas.
- 7 cups of water.
- 4 thick slices of bacon.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- 1 cup of chopped onion.
- 4 minced cloves of garlic.
- 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper.
- 1 teaspoon of salt.
- 1 bay leaf.
- 1 cayenne and black pepper to taste.
- 3 cups of cooked white rice.
- 1 bunch of collard greens.
- Black-eyed peas must be prepared the day before.
- Wash the black-eyed peas and place them in a pot with the water.
- Cook at medium temperature until they boil.
- Take them out of the heat and let them soak overnight.
- The next day, wash the black-eyed peas again and drain. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add olive oil and heat at medium temperature.
- Add bacon, onion, garlic, and green pepper.
- Incorporate drained black-eyed peas, 2 cups of water, salt, bay leaf, cayenne, and black pepper.
- Boil the mixture, and then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf and check to season.
- Serve with rice, steamed collard greens, and cornbread.
Reinforce the Hoppin’ John luck
If you want to reinforce the magic surrounding Hoppin’ John dish, try these additional steps:
- Hide some pennies under the dinner serving plates.
- Leave three peas on your plate to ensure luck, fortune, and romance during the year to come.
- The number of peas served represents the amount of luck you will have. So, make sure to serve a lot.
What to drink with this delicious Hoppin’ John?
When choosing a good drink to pair with this dish, there are a variety of beverages that can go perfectly well with Hoppin’ John, depending on diners’ preferences. Here are a few options:
- Beer: A crisp, light beer like a Pilsner or Lager can be a refreshing complement to the hearty flavors of Hoppin’ John.
- Red Wine: A medium-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir or Merlot can provide a nice balance to the richness of this meal.
But not just alcoholic beverages, of course. Children and other diners who do not drink alcohol can go with:
- Sweet Tea: Sweet tea is a classic southern beverage that complements the savory flavors of this dish.
- Lemonade: If you prefer a sweeter beverage, a glass of lemonade can be a refreshing complement to the dish.
- Sparkling water or soda: The carbonation in the sparkling water or soda can help to cut through the richness of the dish, while the sweetness in some sodas can complement the savory flavors.
- Iced Water: Water is always a good choice to help balance the saltiness and spiciness of Hoppin’ John and keep you hydrated.