If you’re from the South, you probably already know about Hoppin’ John. Original to the Low Country, this flavorful dish of beans, rice, and pork is a New Year’s Day tradition thought to bring good luck for the rest of the year. No one seems to agree on why it’s called Hoppin’ John, but there are copies of old ‘receipts’ (as recipes used to be called) of Hoppin’ John that date back to the early 19th century. To say it’s filling is a big understatement, and I can see why early Americans, farming fields and chopping wood, would have gotten a long energy burn out of the beans and rice.
This is a family recipe from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the incoming Senate Majority Leader. Senator McConnell is the longest-serving senator in Kentucky history, having worked tirelessly on behalf of his country for thirty years in the Senate. I wish Senator McConnell and his colleagues a productive and fruitful new year in Congress.
The bowl I used in the photo comes from Red Banks, Mississippi and is called a thank you bowl. It comes from a friend in Mississippi, who explained that it was a local custom when requesting that a dish of food be passed to say, “Thank you for the peas.” Instead of “Please pass the peas.” – a way of paying it forward by thanking a person for something they hadn’t yet done. What a gracious way to ask for more!
With many thanks to Senator McConnell and his wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, for this scrumptious southern classic.
Prep time: two hours
- 1 ½ cups dry black-eyed peas
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups water
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 ½ cups long-grain brown rice
- Green onion, chopped, for garnish
- In a large pot combine the black-eyed peas, onion, salt and pepper.
- Add water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook bean mixture for 1 ½ hours, covered until black-eyed peas have softened.
- While beans are cooking, cook bacon on stovetop until crispy.
- Cool and break into pieces.
- When black-eyed peas are cooked, add bacon and stir in the rice.
- Cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Serve hot topped with chopped green onion.