Hoppin' John by Danielle and Pablo

RecipeDanielle BellComment

Invented by American slaves and beloved by Southerners of all stripes, it is a mix of black-eyed peas, rice, and greens, seasoned with ham hocks. Traditionally it is eaten on New Years Day with the hope that it will bring good luck, as the black-eye peas themselves are sign of prosperity. 

Makes six hearty servings

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium sized carrot diced
1 medium sized onion diced
1 bay leaf
4 minced garlic cloves
1 ham hock
1 1/2 cups of black-eyed peas that have been soaked
3 cups of water
1 cup of cooked black rice
2 cups of chopped kale
Kosher salt to taste
Cayenne to taste
Black pepper to taste
Garnish with chopped scallions

A note on ham hock: In The Gift of Southern Cooking, Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis caution against supermarket smoked ham hocks, because of their synthetic chemical taste. With this in mind, be careful in regards to where you get your meat. If possible procure yours from a trusted butcher. A slab of bacon, country ham, or cured European ham such as jamón serrano would work fine, as would a pig’s foot.

In a heavy soup pan or dutch oven, saute the onions and carrot with olive oil and bay leaf. After two minutes add the garlic and continue sautéing for an additional two minutes. Next add the water and ham hock. Cover and simmer for at least an hour, allowing the ham hock to impart its flavor into the water. Taste the water before adding the beans; you want it to taste of pork. Add the black-eyed peas and simmer for forty minutes. When beans are tender, cut off the heat and add kale. Cover. After five minutes your kale will have cooked. Season with salt, cayenne, and black pepper to taste. Either serve over a bed of rice or add the rice to the pot. Garnish with chopped scallions.

View article: African Culinary Ingenuity from Lima to Memphis.