Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas

New Year's Day Dinner
Photo: Diana Rattray
Ratings (17)
  • Total: 65 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 50 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
199 Calories
12g Fat
17g Carbs
6g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These Southern black-eyed peas are a traditional New Year's Day dish, also known as Hoppin' John. Black-eyed peas, along with greens and cornbread, are eaten on New Year's Day for good luck and prosperity throughout the year.

There are many popular varieties of field peas, including black-eyed peas, purple hull, crowder peas, and yellow-eye peas. Most Southerners will agree that they are an essential part of a New Year's Day dinner. A typical New Year's Day dinner includes black-eyed peas and long-cooked greens. Together, they are thought to symbolize coins and folding money. Collard greens, turnip or mustard greens, spinach, kale, cabbage, or Swiss chard are all excellent options. For a full meal, serve the peas with hot cooked rice and add a pan of classic Southern cornbread.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 4 ounces salt pork
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 8 ounces ham (about 2 cups, diced)
  • 2 ribs celery (diced)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning mixture (or a seasoning salt blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice

Steps to Make It

  1. Rinse the black-eyed peas and pick them over, removing any damaged peas or small stones. Put them in a large Dutch oven and cover with water to a depth of about 3 inches above the peas. Cover the pan.

  2. Following package directions, soak the black-eyed peas overnight or boil for 2 minutes and then let them stand for 1 hour. Drain the peas.

  3. Remove the rind from the salt pork or other fatty pork and cut it into 1/2-inch dice. Thick bacon, side meat, and streak-o-lean are some good alternatives to salt pork.

  4. Peel the onion and chop it finely.

  5. Peel and mince the garlic.

  6. Place a heavy skillet over medium heat and sauté the diced salt pork with the onion until lightly browned. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute longer.

  7. Meanwhile, dice the ham, celery, and the red and green bell peppers, if using.

  8. Transfer the sautéed salt pork, onions, and garlic to the pot with the drained peas. Add the diced ham, celery, the red and green bell pepper (if using), and the Cajun seasoning blend. Add water or unsalted chicken stock to just cover the peas.

  9. Simmer the peas for about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the peas and vegetables are tender. Check the peas occasionally and add a little more water if necessary. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper, as desired.

  10. About 20 minutes before the peas are ready, cook the rice following the package directions. Keep the rice warm until serving time.

  11. Serve with hot boiled rice, greens, and freshly baked skillet cornbread.

Kitchen Notes

Tomatoes are often included in a dish of Hoppin' John. If desired, add a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes to the peas about 10 minutes before they're ready.