If you want to start the New Year on the right foot, this dish of black-eyed peas and ham is a good bet. This hoppin' John is a quick and easy version of the popular "lucky" dish that's traditionally eaten on New Year's Day. Canned black-eyed peas, leftover ham, and hot cooked rice make a fast and easy meal; all you need to complete the good luck dinner is a skillet of cornbread and some cooked Southern-style greens or cabbage. Coleslaw is another great way to incorporate the cabbage. Many Southerners like chow chow—a relish made with cabbage, green tomatoes, and some other garden vegetables—or corn relish with their peas.
Whatever you choose to serve them with, you'll soon find out why Southerners love their peas. They're satisfying, flavorful, and, with rice, they make a complete meal.
- 1 cup onion (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon bacon drippings
- 2 (16-ounce) cans black-eyed peas (slightly drained, or about 3 cups cooked black-eyed peas)
- 1 cup ham (cooked, chopped)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups cooked rice (hot)
- Dash salt (to taste)
- Optional: thinly sliced sweet onion or red onion
- Heat the bacon drippings in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion to bacon drippings and cook until tender and translucent, stirring frequently.
- Add the the drained black-eyed peas, diced cooked ham, and cayenne pepper; stir to blend thoroughly.
- Simmer the peas for 10 minutes; stir in hot cooked rice and salt, to taste. Alternatively, serve the rice in a wide bowl or on a plate and top with the peas.
- Garnish the black-eyed peas with thinly sliced onion, if desired, and serve the dish with cornbread and greens.
If you choose to cook dry black-eyed peas, it's really very easy, it just takes a little more time. You can cook them a day in advance and finish the Hoppin' John the next day. to cook them, put the black-eyed peas in a large stockpot or Dutch oven and cover them with about 10 cups of water; place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil the peas for 2 minutes. Remove the peas from the heat and set aside for 1 hour to soak. Drain the peas and cover them with 10 cups of fresh water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, place the pot over medium-high heat, and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the peas for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until they are tender. Drain the peas, refrigerate them, and use them in recipes.