It is a family tradition in our house to eat black eyed peas. On New Year’s Day. It is said to bring luck. As someone who says “rabbit rabbit” religiously every first-of-the-month, who am I to resist?
In the past, I have included black eyed peas in soup for New Year’s Day. But lately, I have been making Hopping John. This Year’s version was quite tasty, so I thought I would share.
It helps to start with some leftover ham.
First, clean and soak 1 pound (a bag) of black eyed peas overnight. Use between six and eight cups of water. Use a big pot (like 8 quarts or more), one that can take heat over the stove.
In the morning, chop up an onion, three celery stalks, and a whole green pepper. Sauté them in bacon fat (you have some in the fridge, right?) or butter. Get them soft but not caramelized. Then throw in about a half pound of diced ham, stirring to get it warmed through.
Put the onion, pepper, celery and ham in the pot with the beans and their water. To this, add: four cups chicken stock, a tablespoon of salt,a teaspoon of pepper, and a few shakes of Tabasco. The whole thing will be the consistency of a thick soup.
Bring the whole mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the beans are tender.
A this point, it will have a consistency of something between soup and stew.
Add two cups of rice, and bring it all to a boil again. Then reduce heat, cover, and cook the rice for 25 minutes.
Now, remove the cover and keep the heat on until whatever moisture is left evaporates so it is a slightly creamy consistency (like a thick risotto).
Add Tabasco to taste and enjoy!