Hoppin’ John, a New Year’s Day dish popular in the South, is hearty comfort food that’s just as tasty on an island in the San Juans.
WE TRIED SOMETHING NEW for our New Year’s Day dinner: Hoppin’ John, a black-eyed pea dish from the Carolinas that’s said to bring luck and prosperity in the new year, and who couldn’t use more of that?
It also fit our vegan diet, with peas and rice as the main ingredients. To the Center Island version Barbara added peppers, carrots, celery, garlic and purple shallot along with some seasoning salt in place of the Creole spices we didn’t have in our cupboard. Some variations also feature ham hock, bacon or country sausage, among other things. Here’s a link to a classic recipe from Southern Living magazine.
Chopped celery, carrot, shallot and garlic joined black-eyed peas and rice in our slow cooker on New Year’s Day.
Tradition has it that the black-eyed peas are symbolic of pennies, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot (a tooth-breaking ingredient we omitted). Another traditional addition to the dinner is cornbread, adding more prosperous overtones because of its gold color. And there’s all sorts of other quirky culinary symbolism built up around this simple comfort-food dish.
We’re also following the tradition of having the leftovers for dinner on January 2, when the name changes to “Skippin’ Jenny,” connoting even more prosperity based on the frugality of eating leftovers instead of throwin’ ’em to the hogs. Or, on Center Island, atop the compost pile.
Bon appetit, ya’ll.