Hoppin’ John is one of those classic Cajun dishes with as many versions, stories, and flavors as there are cooks in the United States.
New Year’s Day is nearly here, and there are some Southern Traditions I plan to uphold, one of them being Cajun Hoppin’ John and a few other delicious Old Southern traditions. Hoppin John, like most Southern foods, has a rich history.
Traditionalists may have a few words to say about my Cajun Flavored Hoppin’ John recipe, and that’s ok. We all have our specific traditions and family recipes we enjoy making. The primary ingredients used to make Hoppin’ John were simple: one pound of bacon, one pint of peas, and one pint of rice. You couldn’t get any more straightforward or traditional than that back in the day.
In Sarah Rutledge’s The Carolina Housewife -1847, it’s essential to know that everything was cooked together in the same pot. “First, put on the peas, and when half boiled, add the bacon. When the peas are well boiled, throw in the rice, which must first be washed and graveled. When the rice has been boiling half an hour, take the pot off the fire and put it on coals to steam, as in boiling rice alone.”
Traditionally Hoppin’ John was considered a Low Country menu item before becoming famous and spreading to the entire Southern region. Hoppin’ John is said to have evolved from the rice and bean mixtures made and consumed by enslaved West Africans en route to America. Hoppin’ John has also been traced to similar menu items in West Africa, such as the Senegalese dish, thieves niebe.
One common tradition; is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to ensure that the coming year will be filled with luck, fortune, and romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the success or wealth one may expect in the coming year. I’ll take any of the traditional outcomes; I could use luck, fortune, and plenty of romance in the following year!
Happy upcoming New Year, everyone, from The McCallum Kitchen!
Ingredients needed for Cajun Hoppin’ John
One pound of black-eyed peas or field peas
Water to soak beans overnight
One tablespoon of bacon grease or oil
One large yellow onion chopped
One cup of thinly sliced celery
Five cloves of garlic thinly sliced
One-10-ounce can of diced tomatoes with chilis
Six cups of low-sodium chicken broth
One pound of uncooked andouille sausage or smoked sausage
One ham hock
Two bay leaves
One bouquet of fresh thyme
1/2 of a tablespoon Cajun seasoning
A dash of hot sauce
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to own taste
Freshly ground pepper, to own flavor
Four cups of already cooked white rice, less water method
Spring onions to garnish, optional
- 1 pound black-eyed peas or field peas
- Water to soak beans overnight
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease or oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 5 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1-10- ounce can of diced tomatoes with chilis
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound uncooked andouille sausage or smoked sausage
- 1 ham hock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bouquet of fresh thyme
- ½ of a tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 dash hot sauce
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt to own taste
- freshly ground pepper to own taste
- 4 cups cooked white rice less water method
- spring onions to garnish optional
- Wash and rinse the dried field peas or black-eyed peas a few times before placing in a large pot to soak overnight, be sure the beans are covered -about 3 inches of excess water above the dried beans. Soak overnight or at least 8 hours before attempting to cook the dried black-eyed peas. Once peas have soaked drain and reserve in a colander till needed.
- Place a large stockpot or saucepan over medium heat; add 1 tablespoon of bacon grease or oil to the stock pot or saucepan, chopped yellow onion, thinly sliced celery, and sliced garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Next add 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilis, 6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth, 1 pound of andouille sausage or smoked sausages, 1 ham hawk, bay leaves, 1 bouquet of fresh thyme, Cajun seasoning, dash of hot sauce, pinch of red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper to own taste. Reduce heat to low heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes hour or till black-eyed peas or field peas become softened and a creamy texture is noticed.
- Serve the Hoppin’ John mixed in with the white steamed rice a side of collard greens and garnish with spring onions if desired.
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