Hoppin' John can be a New Year’s Day hit

Oneforthetable.comDecember 31, 2013 

New Year’s is about a lot of things: partying into the night, getting tipsy on Champagne, sharing a moment with a special someone at the stroke of midnight.

Most importantly, the new year is a reboot, a chance to make some changes, to set a goal and go for it, to choose a new direction in life. Many cultures believe there’s a way to ensure a positive outcome in the new year by eating lucky foods. To guarantee your good luck, why not eat your way to prosperity and wealth? It’s worth a try.

Some people say it’s tradition to eat pork on New Year’s Day because the pig symbolizes forward progress because of its predilection to dig things up with its snout, whereas the chicken, which scratches backwards, is a no-no.

Many Southerners equate black-eyed peas and greens with wealth – the beans look like coins and the greens like money. Hoppin’ John is one of those traditional dishes you’ll find on the New Year’s table because it has black-eyed peas and bacon – a winning combination.

This easy New Year’s side dish is quick to put together. It can even be made with leftover rice and beans. The vegetables are cooked in the rendered bacon fat, then the rice and beans are tossed in. Before serving, add green onions and the reserved bacon. For a full Southern New Year’s supper, pair Hoppin’ John with sauteed greens such as collards or kale, corn bread and a beautiful baked ham or roast pork.

Not only will it be an amazingly flavorful dinner, it will also guarantee luck for everyone who partakes in the meal.

Hoppin' John

5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into strips

1 small onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced

2 cups cooked white rice

2 cups cooked black-eyed peas

1/2 cup chopped green onions, plus more for garnish

FRY bacon in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

ADD onion and bell pepper to hot bacon fat and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and saute for 1 minute.

ADD tomato and cook until soft and thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice and black-eyed peas and warm for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in green onions and reserved bacon. Remove to a platter and garnish with additional green onions.

YIELD: 6 servings as a side dish.

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