From Kugels & Collards: Stories of Food, Family, and Tradition in Jewish South Carolina, by Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey
For New Year’s Day on the first day of January, I have eaten black-eyed peas and rice, or Hoppin’ John, and collards for as long as I can remember. Little did I know, black-eyed peas are not only a traditional Southern dish, but a long-standing traditional Jewish New Year dish. In an article for Southern Living, Hannah Hayes notes, “There is evidence that people ate black-eyed peas for luck as early as 500 A.D. as part of the Rosh Hashanah meal. But the tradition of eating black-eyed peas with rice is African in origin and spread throughout the South, especially in the Carolinas, in the form of pilaus (perlo) or rice dishes simmered for a long time with chicken or shrimp. When black-eyed peas were added to the pilau, it became Hoppin’ John.” Eating Hoppin’ John, a savory blend of rice and black-eyed peas drawn from West African culture and brought to America by enslaved people, is today a Southern tradition that purportedly ensures prosperity and health in the New Year.
Hoppin’ John should be served with collards and can accompany turkey, brisket, or fried chicken. To make this recipe vegetarian, use vegetable broth.
- 4cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas, red peas, or field peas
- 1 ½cups uncooked Carolina Gold rice
- 8cups chicken stock
- 3tablespoons olive oil
- 1large onion, chopped
- Kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- Hot sauce to taste
Yield: Makes 12-16 servings
- Step 1
Soak the fresh peas overnight. Drain. Put the peas in a saucepan, give a heavy shake of salt, and cover with 5 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a good boil. Turn the heat down to medium low. Simmer for about 40 minutes (about 20 minutes if using frozen peas). Drain the liquid once it has cooked.
- Step 2
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the rice until toasted. Add 3 cups of chicken broth and a heavy shake of salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Step 3
Cover the bottom of a large skillet with low sides with olive oil. Add the onions, and cook until caramelized, soft, and brown. Once the onions are cooked, add the rice and peas to the skillet of onions. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a few drops of hot sauce, and stir. Serve warm. Does not freeze well, but leftovers only get better!