Every New Year’s Day, I cook Hoppin’ John. It’s a Southern tradition that supposedly brings good luck. I only cook it once a year, because truth be told, no one likes it. Before you put your high and mighty smarty pants on, it isn’t my cooking. It’s just who wants to eat a main course of smooshy black eyed peas?
I toss a salty ham bone in the pot, or sometimes add delicious Conecuh sausage, which is picked out right away only to leave the sad star of the show- blobby peas – on the plate. Year after year, we eat the time honored dish, but no one ever wants seconds. The dog usually gets dibs on the leftovers. It isn’t that Hoppin’ John is bad – it just isn’t remarkable.
And anyway, if it is so wonderful, why can’t you ever find it on any good restaurant’s menu?
Maybe our lack of enthusiasm for the pea dish is because we always eat Seafood Gumbo on Christmas Eve, which is served over rice, and this time of year we also like to fix (translation: cook) a big pot of chili and sometimes eat that over rice too. So adding one more thing to simmer on the stove and throw atop a pile of rice seems like overkill.
Here’s my final decision. I think I’ll be a bad Southern woman and skip the Hoppin’ John this year.
Oh, we’ll still have black eyed peas, I’m not about to tempt fate. The lucky spotted legumes will just be on the side and completely separate from the ham, turnip greens and biscuits covered with butter and cane syrup from the cane grinding back in November.
Maybe my refusal to serve this January 1st staple is a defiant streak that will set the tone for the upcoming year. Maybe my family won’t even notice. Maybe they’ll miss it and beg for it again next year.
Or just maybe, I’ll do what I darn well please.
And honey, isn’t that exactly what Southern women do anyway?
In case you want to go the traditional route, here’s the recipe.
Fairhope Supply Co. Hoppin’ John
Saute the trinity (half cup each – chopped bell pepper, onion and celery) in butter. Add one clove chopped garlic. Pour in one quart of chicken stock and and one pound of black eyed peas that have been soaked overnight then rinsed. To this, add your ham hock or sliced sausage. Continue stirring. add one bay leaf, one teaspoon of thyme and salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne or Tabasco to your taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the peas are tender and creamy. Serve over rice.
Sit back and wait for the luck to roll in.
Happy New Year, Y’all.
You can find this story along with other ideas about the New Year at My Romantic Home, At The Picket Fence, Stone Gable, Southern Somedays, The Dedicated House, Savvy Southern Style and French Country Cottage.
Leave a comment