Hoppin’ John is classic low country cooking, having originated in South Carolina and probably with roots in African cuisine. I make mine with both thick country bacon and spicy Andouille sausage, but if you just wanted a nice vegetable forward dish, these could be omitted and the seasonings elevated.
Stories abound about how the name of this dish came to be. Some tales reference children “hopping happy” to see this meal coming their way, others speak to a crippled peddler who sold this food as a street vendor. One can only guess how Hoppin’ John became the lucky New Year’s Day meal of choice. Maybe it’s good for a hangover. This could be the year to find out!
HOPPIN’ JOHN / Serves 6 Generously
1/2 lb. thick bacon, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1/2 lb. Andouille sausage
1 medium white onion, chopped fine
4 celery ribs, spiced medium
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
Chicken stock, if desired
1 bunch green onion, trimmed, chopped and set aside for garnish
1-1/2 uncooked long grain rice white or brown
Basil, thyme, cayenne, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2 cans (15 oz) of black eyed peas, rinsed and drained. It depends on the ratio you like, it’s a personal thing. You may also cook your beans from scratch if not pressed for time.
Cook bacon and sausage in a large cast iron skillet with a tight fitting lid, set aside, slice sausage when cool.
Combine and sauté all vegetables in the bacon grease, stirring in salt and seasonings. Stir in the rice to coat with the pan drippings and spices.
Cover with chicken stock to the first knuckle on your index finger (good Grandma tip…first knuckle for rice, second for beans)
Cover and cook until rice has absorbed all liquid and appears to be done. If you need to add a bit more stock, please do.
Then add in the rinsed beans, bacon and sausage, gently folding in.
Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes on a very low flame while preparing the side dishes or salad you’d like to have to accompany the rice and peas.
Top with lots of green onion and have the hot sauce handy!
Everyone is lucky since this is a highly nutritious one pot meal that’s also economical.
Happy New Year!