If you’re a child of the South, like me, you’re probably well versed in the tradition of eating black eyed peas on the first day of the new year. It’s meant to ensure luck and prosperity for the following 364 days. One of the most prolific ways to eat yo’ peas is a steaming pot of Hoppin’ John.
The lore of equating beans to prosperity (wealth) could be tied to the way that beans resembled coins and loose change or the fact that legumes swell when you soak them — the way we want our fortunes to swell.
Whatever the logic, I’ve taken a cue from my grandmother, Madou’s superstitious mind and hold this practice as a MUST DO every New Year’s Day. Like her, I’m not taking any chances.
Whatever the juju, Hoppin’ John also happens to be a warm, comforting and utterly delicious stew. The garlicky beans are simmered in with a rich, meaty kielbasa or other smoked sausage and kissed with a bit of cumin and jalapeño.
Best of all, if you use a few packages of frozen black eyed peas (which I do), this big pot of luck-filled goodness, is ready in under an hour.
Serve your Hoppin’ John over a bed of steamed rice with some lucky greens on the side, or stir them directly into the pot and simmer until tender. Either way — the positive mojo will be with you all year long.
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
- 6 cups frozen black-eyed peas (or one pound dried - soaked overnight and cooked to al dente)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 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 kielbasa and cook until browned and some fat has rendered into the pot, about 5-6 minutes.
Add onions, celery and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, until slightly softened. Add cumin and bay leaf, stir to coat vegetables with cumin.
Add black eyed peas 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.
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