What would New Years Day be without Hoppin’ John? It’s a traditional dish served in the South on New Year’s Day, consisting of a black-eyed pea mixture served over rice. Hoppin’ John is often accompanied by cornbread and greens. Legend has it that the black-eyed peas are symbolic of pennies or coins.
Cornbread, which is the color of gold, is thought to represent wealth. The greens, which are the color of money are supposed to add to the wealth. Oftentimes, one adds a shiny dime to the Hoppin’ John before it is served. Whoever gets the dime is assured of good luck throughout the coming year.
My mother always made Hoppin’ John using the bone from our Christmas ham. I had already used this year’s bone in split pea soup. Therefore, I decided to depart from tradition and add smoked sausage in place of the ham. I actually think that the smoked sausage produces a more savory dish.
Ingredients for Hoppin’ John with Smoked Sausage:
I used the following ingredients: Dried black-eyed peas that had been soaked overnight, smoked sausage, the holy trinity of onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, a can of Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies, dried thyme, Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and chicken broth.
I always use Conecuh smoked sausage. It’s incredibly flavorful, but does need to be cooked.
Adding the Ingredients for Hoppin’ John:
Generally, I make Hoppin’ John in my pressure cooker. For some reason, I decided to make it in my Dutch oven instead. I cut the sausage into ¼-inch pieces. Then, I cooked it over medium heat in my Dutch oven until it rendered most of its fat. I drained the cooked sausage on paper towels. Next, I pressed each piece with additional paper towels to ensure that I had removed as much grease as possible.
After all of the sausage was done, I poured the fat from the Dutch oven. Then, I wiped any residual fat with paper towels. What was left in the pan was quite a bit of fond or browned bits that contain a lot of flavor.
Next, I added the onion, celery and bell pepper to the Dutch oven. I let them cook over medium heat for about five minutes. This not only allowed the vegetables to soften a bit, but also aided in loosening the fond from the bottom of the pan. Then I added the minced garlic.
I let the mixture continue to cook over medium heat for about 30 seconds until the garlic became fragrant. Next, I added the can of Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies. I continued to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any remaining fond. Now, I added the black-eyed peas and the cooked sausage. Then, I poured in the chicken broth, and stirred the mixture to ensure that everything was well combined. Finally, I added the thyme, salt and pepper,
Cooking the Hoppin’ John:
I covered the Dutch oven, and simmered the Hoppin’ John over medium low heat for a little over an hour. I wanted the peas to be tender and creamy. The longer it took, the more I thought I should have used the pressure cooker. The reason is that the cooking time is 10 minutes in the pressure cooker!
I didn’t have any fresh greens, so yet again, I broke with tradition. I served the Hoppin’ John over steamed rice accompanied by a homemade sourdough baguette. Yum! Happy New Year!
- 1 pound (16 ounces) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed well
- 1 pound (16 ounces) smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 large onion chopped (1-1/2 cups)
- 2 stalks celery chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 bell pepper seeded and chopped (1/2 cup)
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 quart (4 cups) low sodium chicken broth
- 1 10-ounce can Rotel Original Tomatoes and Chilies
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped chives or green onions for garnish optional
- 3 cups steamed white rice
- Cook sausage over medium heat in a large Dutch oven until done. Drain well on paper towels. Pour fat from pan, and wipe interior with paper towel to remove any residual fat.
- Return Dutch oven to medium heat; add onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often to loosen fond on bottom. Add minced garlic; cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies; continue to stir to loosen any remaining fond on bottom of pan. Add black-eyed peas, cooked sausage, thyme, salt, pepper and chicken broth.
- Cover and simmer over medium low heat for one hour or until peas are tender and creamy. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with chopped chives or green onions. Serve over rice. YIELD: 6 servings.
Note: If using a pressure cooker, cook for 10 minutes once high pressure is achieved.