New Year’s Eve is here and I’m ready to make something traditional – Skillet Hoppin’ John! This Traditional New Year’s Day Hoppin’ John recipe is both delicious and easy to make! Southern Black Eyed Peas and Rice, Bacon and Greens. Plus a vegan option. Start your year off with a bit of Southern luck!
When I married into a southern Cajun family, I learned about all kinds of new delectable foods. Okra, gumbo, collards, grits, and I kept hearing about something called Hoppin’ John. As a born and bred Yankee you can only imagine my confusion. This New Year’s Day recipe was all new to me as well!
Well, my mother in-law sent me the recipe with a nice little explanation of what it all means. All food has meaning and that’s half the enjoyment!
Here’s what she said:
It occurred to me today when I was preparing our traditional New Year’s Day fare that you should have this recipe. It’s so old that I remember Jeremy loving it when he still lived at home…We Southerners must have black eyed peas (represent coins) and greens (represents paper money) for good luck and prosperity in the new year! Hope you have yours! – L
don’t forget to PIN IT!
My family's traditional Skillet Hoppin' John with additional options for vegan / vegetarian versions.
- 2-3 strips uncooked bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces *See notes for VEGAN/VEGETARIAN OPTION
- 2 Tbs butter, melted
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 15 oz cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (option: cook dried beans ahead of time)
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth *See notes on cooking liquid
- 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
- rosemary to taste
- thyme to taste
- tabasco to top
Add chopped, uncooked bacon pieces to a sauté pan and cook until crispy.
Add butter to the pan, melt and add in the onion. Saute until onion is soft, adding garlic for the last minute or so of cooking.
Stir in black eyed peas, chicken broth, rice, salt, 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, thyme and rosemary.
Bring mixture to a boil; cover and simmer 40- 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
Let sit 10 minutes then fluff it all up with a fork and enjoy!
Top with a dash of tabasco or your favorite hot sauce!
*Some rice brands may require a bit more/less liquid. Always check your package and adjust as necessary. Mine said 2 cups, but I find that’s too much so I reduce it to 1 3/4 cups.
*VEGAN HOPPIN’ JOHN OPTION:
This can easily be made into a vegan hoppin’ john recipe with these easy substitutions:
- Substitute smoky tempeh for the bacon.
- Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
- Use non-dairy butter.
Why is it called Hoppin’ John?
No one knows exactly why it is called Hoppin’ John. Legends say perhaps a street vendor named Hoppin’ John was selling rice and bean in Charleston.
According to History.com, Hoppin’ John recipes started showing up in the 1840s. Thought to have originated in South Carolina, farmers needed crops that could survive the hot, sweltering weather – rice and southern black eyed peas were two crops that fared well.
Symbolism of Southern Black Eye Peas and Greens
It’s unclear how Hoppin’ John became a New Year’s Tradition with symbolic meaning. The black eyed peas (represent coins) and greens (represents paper money) for good luck and prosperity in the new year.
For the greens or “money” portion of this meal, my mother-in-law suggests braised collard greens or cabbage. She always serves this with pork chops and corn bread drizzled with cane patch syrup.
Since my kale continues to grow into the winter, that was my choice for the greens. Simply sautéd with olive oil and a little salt.