Hoppin' & Skippin' Into The New Year
Updated: Oct 1
Happy New Year! New Year's Day is a real favorite of mine, it is more than a new day or a new month, it is a brand new year. Ahead of us lies 365 opportunities, chances, fresh starts, or even re-dos, it is a blank slate of time. You can reflect on the past year, but just remember the direction you are headed, forward to the future. As we all progress into this new uncharted year, remember, your future is not ruled by your past. No matter what has happened in your life, you always have the ability to make things a little better for yourself, or those whose lives you touch. Change doesn't really need a big investment it just needs time, and every twenty fours hours can be a fresh start.
Every geographic area holds fast to certain traditions, New Year's Day in Philadelphia means the Mummer's Parade, Pasadena has the Rose Parade, and the Midwest would be the core of the Pork and Sauerkraut corridor. Here in the South, we have a tradition of our own, well many actually but let's stay focused on New Year's Day. On New Year's Day in the South Hoppin' John, Smothered Green's and Cornbread rule the day. There are a variety of stories of how this dish was named, as well as its origins, however, there isn't much argument that it is a wonderfully warm and comforting way to start the year. The goal of dining on Hoppin' John is to bring you good fortune, luck, and peace in the new year. Monetary fortune represented by the black eyed peas and collards, which are coins and paper money. The luck will be found in the pork sausage, and the rice represents peace. For good measure, I also make an extra pot of Collard Greens, as well as Cornbread to round out any and all gold opportunities it represents. Before we head to the recipe, a few fun facts, rumor has it that leaving three peas on your plate, improves your fortunate chances. Also, leftover Hoppin' John is called Skippin' Jenny, and Skippin' Jenny is thought to bring you even more fortune in the new year. So that is why we are Hoppin' and Skippn' into the New Year.
This is really a simple dish, with minimal prep, the one thing to remember is that you must put the black-eyed peas on to soak the night before. Before heading out to the waterfront fireworks, I like to set the beans and pan out on the counter, as a gentle reminder to start the process. Do not use canned or pre-cooked peas, you will end up with some type of flavorless mush. That said, one bag of dried peas will give you an enormous amount of leftovers to deal with, if you are only looking to have enough for this dish then I would consider only using about half of the bag. You can always use the remainder of the dried peas as pie weights.
In a large pot, at least 6 qt, cover beans with water then let soak overnight or at least 6 hours. After the soaking, drain the peas and rinse them.
3 tbs canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced. Save green tops for garnish
1 lb collard greens, tough stems removed, washed and sliced
1 tbs kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 lb kielbasa, andouille, or other smoked sausage sliced into half-inch discs
1 ½ - 2 cups soaked black-eyed peas
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice (I use brown)
4 cups chicken broth
In a large pot or dutch oven at least 6 qt, heat the oil over med heat, add onion and green onions cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the collard greens, salt, black pepper, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the greens wilt, about 1 minute.
Increase heat to medium-high, add sausage, black-eyed peas, and rice. cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.
Cover pot, reduce the heat to low, stir occasionally, cooking until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed about 40 minutes.
Serve with additional collard greens, and cornbread if you like. A Buttermilk Pie is a great match for dessert.