hoppin’ john is a (superstitious) southern tradition
She’d say, “You must suffer to be beautiful.” Or, “don’t lift that, it’ll give you muscles” (as if a girl with a bit of muscle was a bad thing). The beliefs my grandmother, Madou, has shared sometimes have me shaking my head, but they stick with me. They are her true-isms. Whether or not I believed them — she did.
Along with those notions — were a few superstitious ones as well. Like eating black-eyed peas on the first day of the new year — to ensure prosperity for the next 365 days. I don’t know if she really believed it, but she wasn’t taking any chances.
What? You’ve never heard of this? Well, I guess if you’re not from the Southern tier of states, it may have escaped you, but — like greens are symbolic of money in many cultures — so are beans and legumes. Perhaps it’s because they resemble spare change — or for their propensity to swell when cooked — like we hope our fortunes will swell!
Whatever the juju, this is one of her mantras that I have — and will — remain faithful to. Partly because I don’t want to risk it, and partly because it’s so good. Garlicky beans – simmered in broth with a hint of heat from the jalape?os and a light herbal note from fresh cilantro.
And so, every January 1st, you’ll find us gathered around a warm, hearty pot of black-eyed peas, loaded with rich, juicy smoked sausage and a scoop of steamed rice. I serve lucky greens (usually kale) on the side, but feel free to stir them into the pot.
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 -1 whole jalapeño, minced (seeds and membranes removed if you don't like spice)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound smoked kielbasa, cut into 2 inch chunks
- 2 pounds frozen black-eyed peas
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- cooked rice
- additional fresh cilantro
- hot sauce, if desired
- In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add jalapeño and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add kielbasa and cook for 7-8 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add black eyed peas, bay leaves and broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until peas are tender and creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in the garlic and cilantro.
- Serve over rice with additional cilantro or hot sauce, if desired.