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.
Mandatory on January 1st for luck and prosperity, but delicious every other day of the year, too!
- 1 small onion peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 carrot peeled and diced
- 1 jalapeño seeds and membranes removed if you don't like spice, minced
- 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 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.