Into the New Year with Hoppin’ John

My family is a stickler for having black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. The rest of meal could change but it still had to center around this little legume. These beans really swell when cooked, so they’ve come to symbolize prosperity and plenty of people believe that eating such meager fare on the 1st of January will bring better tidings for the rest of the year.

I took the bone from the holiday ham my parent’s had and used it as the base for Hoppin’ John. This traditional rice and bean dish is a good hearty way to see in the New Year.

hoppin john and cornmeal

Hoppin’ John

1 tablespoon bacon grease
1 large ham hock
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 heaping teaspoon of Creole seasoning or 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper, and cayenne
3 cups steamed white or wild rice

Heat grease in a large dutch oven, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion and saute until golden, then add the celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for five minutes until softened. Add the black-eyed peas, chicken stock, bay leaves, and other seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stirring occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings. Serve over rice and accompany the meal with cornbread.

My Mama’s Cornbread

1 cup flour
1 cup corn meal
4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten into 1 cup of milk
1/4 cup Crisco

8”cast iron skillet

Preheat oven with the skillet in the oven, melting the Crisco. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in a portion of the melted shortening until it is the consistency of pancake batter. Pour the mixture into the skillet, over the remaining shortening.

Cook at 425˚ for 25 minutes

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