Our Good luck New Year’s Recipe
Blackeye Peas Anson Mills Red Peas
Crispy Hoppin’ John
All over the South, blackeye peas are served to celebrate New Year’s. In Charleston, it’s Hoppin John, the traditional blackeye pea and rice dish. We’ve been asked for years where the name Hoppin John came from. (There were stories about a man with a crutch, but really….) Recent research, though, has uncovered a likely explanation. Planters and enslaved Africans from French speaking islands came to the South with a pea they called “pois de pigeon”, French for pigeon pea. Pigeon peas, like blackeye peas, are a variety of field pea. When our mother made Hoppin John, she preferred cowpeas, a smaller, darker pea than the blackeye.
In the photo above, the red peas on the right are an organic heirloom pigeon pea that we get from Anson Mills in South Carolina. And here’s our recipe for our crispy Hoppin’ John. If you want to be authentic, Anson Mills red peas are for sale at the restaurant.
Peas and ham
- 2TB. vegetable oil
- ½ lb. dry field peas, rinsed
- 1 C small dice onions
- ½ C small dice carrots
- 1/3 C small dice celery
- 2 tsp dry thyme
- 2 oz. ham or ham scraps
- 1qt. water
- 1 TB salt or to taste
- ½ tsp. pepper
Heat the oil sauté the onions, carrots and celery until they’re a little tender. Add the rinsed peas the thyme. Stir, and add the water and the ham.
Cook for 35-45 minutes, adding more water if the peas are not covered. When the peas are tender, add the salt (amount depends on the saltiness of the ham) and the pepper. Chop up the ham and stir in. Makes 6 C cooked peas.
Crispy Hoppin’ John
Mix together equal amounts of peas (including some liquid) and rice. Heat a heavy skillet slowly over moderate heat and add some oil or bacon fat. Sauté the rice and pea mixture and until the bottom is crispy. Turn and repeat on other side. Don’t worry if it crumbles; it’s not supposed to stay in a cake.
Make it in batches if you’re making a lot.