Get a leg up on the New Year with a big bowl of Easy Hoppin’ John! A Southern New Year’s “good luck” tradition (also known as South Carolina Peas and Rice) that consists of field peas, (typically black-eyed peas or purple hull peas), onion, bell pepper, bacon, served with rice. Most often, this New Year’s dish serves as an entree, but if you’re serving a large meal, it’s an excellent side dish, too!
The theory behind this annual, Southern “good luck” dish is this: eat a bowl of Hoppin’ John at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve (with a side of greens and a celebratory glass of bubbly) or on New Year’s Day. Many believe that eating the peas and rice brings good luck and peace in the New Year. I’ve never not had Hoppin’ John at New Year’s. Never. And I’ve had pretty good luck, so I stick to this ritual every year!
What Kind of Peas Should I Use for Hoppin’ John?
Most often, traditional Hoppin’ John recipes use black eyed peas. Black eyed peas are available year-round canned or frozen and while the frozen ones aren’t too bad, but I shy away from the canned. It’s just me…I’m not a fan of canned black eyed peas.
You can also use purple hull peas for easy Hoppin’ John, but the challenge is, they are not available year-round and aren’t available in cans. There are some brands of frozen purple hull peas, but I think they’re mislabeled-they don’t look or taste like purple hulls. So, I recommend you stock up on purple hulls in the summer when they’re fresh and freeze them so you can eat them year round, and particularly on New Year’s with a slice of cornbread!
The ingredients are relatively simple: peas, cooked with some sort of pork fat (usually bacon), diced bell pepper, onion and a bed of rice. You can dress up any Hoppin’ John recipe to your liking, but this traditional “soul food” recipe is pretty limited, but very flavorful.
How to Make Hoppin’ John
There are two methods to making Hoppin’ John- with frozen or canned peas. This recipe uses frozen black eyed peas which are cooked in water. You can use vegetable or chicken broth as well. Add sauteed onion, bell pepper, seasonings and a handful of bacon to peas. Allow to simmer then serve with rice. Garnish with remaining bacon and green onions.
- Chop onion and bell pepper
- Cook the bacon; chop/crumble and set aside
- Cook the peas in water; add seasonings to peas
- Add cooked onion and bell pepper to peas
- Put a scoop of prepared rice to a bowl and top off with peas, onion, and green bell pepper (you can use a slotted spoon or not)
- Garnish with remaining bacon and green onions
A slower method for this Southern good luck dish is to cook fresh or dried peas (which takes up to two hours) on the stove top or slow cooker, then follow the instructions above. This method for making Hoppin’ John takes more time, but I think the flavor is totally worth it! And for added true Southern flair, serve this New Year’s dish with a side of homemade cornbread!
Craving More? Try Leftover Smoked Turkey Salad!
- 12 oz. frozen black eyed peas
- 6 thick slices of hickory smoked bacon (reserve bacon grease)
- 2 cups prepared rice white or brown
- ½ cup sweet yellow onion chopped
- ½ cup green bell pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste ( I put ½ teaspoon in peas and ½ teaspoon in onion/bell pepper mixture); after that, I add more to taste
- Rinse frozen black eyed peas in a colander; allow to drain; set aside
- Chop onion and bell pepper; set aside
- Cook bacon; drain on paper towel; chop; set aside (reserve bacon grease)
Cook the Black Eyed Peas
- In a large stock pot, add 3 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, ground pepper, onion powder, ½ teaspoon of salt and peas
- Cook on medium high heat until peas are tender (about 45 minutes)
- While peas are cooking, add one tablespoon of bacon greas3 to a skillet; add onion and bell pepper; cook on medium for 6-8 minutes (until onions are lightly browned and bell pepper is semi-tender)
- Add sauteed onion and bell pepper to peas while they are cooking; add about 1/2 of the chopped bacon to the peas
- Make rice while peas are cooking; set aside
- Once peas are tender, season to taste with salt and pepper
- Plate rice in a small bowl and pour peas over rice; garnish with remaining bacon and green onion