Tasty Tuesday: Black-eyed peas and collard greens

Yes, I know that once again, it’s not Tuesday. Oops. But hey, EVERY day at my house is tasty, so it’s easy to forget! This week is always a little intense for me because I go from BIG Christmas baking right into New Year’s Eve party foods.

I’ve also been learning about this New Year’s tradition of eating black-eyed peas and collard greens for good luck. I grew up with entirely different traditions, it’s been quite a fascinating journey for me. The recipe for Black-eyed Peas I’m sharing today is by no means the end of my research. I’m sure that some of you will also be absolutely certain that I’m doing it WRONG. And if you do, I WANT to hear from you because I want to learn all the different ways of doing this tradition RIGHT.

So here’s what I’ve been learning. Spicy black-eyed peas, also called Hoppin’ John, is supposed to be eaten on New Year’s Eve. Some folks even eat a bowl of black-eyed peas right at midnight along with their champagne toast to the New Year. If there are leftovers the day after New Year’s Day and anyone can be convinced to eat them, those leftovers are called Skippin’ Jenny. Some traditions hold that everyone dining on Hoppin’ John needs to leave 3 peas on their plate at the end of the meal to represent Romance, Luck, and Fortune. Some traditions suggest counting the peas in a dish of Hoppin’ John to learn just how MUCH fortune is coming your way in the New Year. If you add in collard greens to your traditional meal, then you can hope for luck AND fortune.

Black-eyed peas and collard greens

I have to be real honest with you. The idea of black-eyed peas and collard greens just doesn’t grab me, BUT I love beans and rice so I think there’s some hope for this new tradition in our home.  I have to further confess that there are just lots of parts of a pig I can’t bring myself to use. So all recipes that include hog jowls, fat-back, pigs feets, pigs stomach, etc. are just OUT for me. I feel real good about a 1 pound package of bacon in my Hoppin’ John, but if you like those things, you will surely end up with a more authentic version of this dish! Thus far, this is tastiest combination I’ve come up with is this:

Hoppin’ John (Spicy Black-eyed peas and Rice)

Simmer together for 2.5 hours:

  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
  • 6 c. water
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic
  • 2 small ham hocks or ham bone (optional)

After the black-eyed peas are tender but not mushy, drain them. Discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Cut any meat off the ham bones and set that aside.

Add 2 1/2 c. of water back into the peas and bring to a boil. Add:

  • 1 c. long-grain white rice

Simmer 10-12 minutes or until the rice is starting to get tender.

Meanwhile, saute:

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 T. olive oil

After the veggies are about half sauteed, stir in the following spices:

  • 1 t. thyme
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 2 t. cajun or creole seasoning

Sautee for another 2-3 minutes. Add this mixture to the peas and rice and simmer all together until the rice is completely cooked. This will take another 5-8 minutes. Stir in any cooked ham bits. In my house, this is the time to add

  • cooked and chopped bacon
  • salt to taste

Set this pot aside now and take care of the collard greens. So far, what I like best is to VERY finely shred the collard greens and saute them briefly in very hot sesame oil. Then I stir these into my black-eyed peas to make a single dish. That may not be the favored approach for folks who grew up eating collard greens…which I haven’t.

Serve with hot-out-of-the-oven cornbread. Add hot sauce if that’s your druthers.

I’m still very much playing around with this combination of foods and flavors since some of them are new to me. Stay tuned as I develop this tradition at our house! Meanwhile, I would love to hear ideas for how these traditional foods should/can/must ALWAYS/must NEVER be prepared! Give me ideas; I’m wide open!

I’ll be adding a few links to this post over the next couple of days as I write about other New Year’s food traditions, so check back!

As you’re getting ready for New Year’s Eve parties, check out the Appetizers section on My Sister’s Kitchen for ideas of some delicious things-to-bring-to-a-party!

Barb, writing at My Sister’s Kitchen

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  1. My family never did food traditions, probably because my mom’s cooking rivals Lisa Douglas’s (on Green Acres, ya know) in it’s inedibility. Spell checker says that’s not a word, but I’m going with it. I’m cooking the stuff, but only because that’s what’s on sale. I’d just as soon have some other beans. Black-eyed peas aren’t a favorite of mine. Please don’t tell my mom I said that.

  2. Barb, so brave to list a 100% southern dish! My mom actually calls me on New Year’s Day to make sure that I have a pot of beans on the stove. Let’s be clear on the ham hock . . .NOT OPTIONAL. I saute the peppers et al, then add rice, stir for about 30 sec, then add the liquid (chick broth) and peas back into the pot. At this point I add a can of diced tomatoes (drained). We also like to top hoppin’ john with toasted pecans. I have strayed from tradition by using brown rice.