Hoppin’ John & Cornbread

Good luck food

By Chef Deb Traylor

Black-eyed peas are the quintessential New Year’s Day good luck meal in the south. Whether you believe in that lucky superstition or you hold fast to southern tradition, it’s more than likely you’ll have a big pot of Hoppin’ John on the stove on New Year’s Day for friends and family.

Both Ginger and I have memories of having black-eyed peas as kids, even though our experiences were slightly different. Ginger’s mom would slow cook a batch of peas and serve them with cornbread topped off with big spoonfuls of homemade chow chow. My mom would open a can of peas, pour them in a pan, heat it up and we’d drown them in Tabasco hot sauce. 😉 Completely different, yet both families honored the tradition to ensure we had good luck in the New Year.

At Ginger and Baker we have so much to look forward to in 2017, and I can say without hesitation we’re hoping for a good dose or two of luck as we work to bring all our dreams and plans to fruition. We’re so thankful for everyone who has followed along with our progress and we feel lucky to be able to call many of you friends.

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing love, health and luck to all of you!

Hoppin’ John

Serves 6-8

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight or 2 (11-ounce) containers of fresh black-eyed peas
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, minced
  • 4 stalks celery, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken stock or water
  • 1 large smoked ham hock
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-3 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Melt butter in a large pot with a lid over medium heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the black-eyed peas, chicken stock or water, ham hock, black pepper, cayenne and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Fresh peas should cook in 30 minutes but dried peas will take about an hour or more.  I like to turn my oven to 300 degrees, put the lid on the pot and bake for  1 1/2 – 2 hours. I think it allows the ham hock to render more of its flavors and fat and make the overall dish more tender. Once the peas are done to your liking, add salt, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Notes:

  • Serve with cooked rice, collard greens, cornbread and a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce!
  • Add canned diced tomatoes with their juice if you like
  • Add diced ham or rendered bacon and fat if you cannot find a ham hock.
  • Torn pieces of kale are a nice addition
  • Add chopped jalapeños for extra heat.

Quick Cooked Collard Greens

  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 in strips
  • 1 large bunch collard greens, cleaned, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar

In a large stockpot with a lid, sauté bacon until fat is rendered, add chopped collard greens, salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne and sugar to the pot and stir until the greens begin to wilt. Add 2 cups water to the pot and bring the greens to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season greens with salt and more pepper and add vinegar right before serving.

Notes:

  • Many recipes suggest the greens need to be cooked for 1-2 hours, but we found them to have an amazing texture and flavor with a shorter cooking time.
  • Feel free to add chopped onions after you sauté the bacon
  • As with many southern recipes, these greens can be finished with a big shot or two of a vinegar-based hot sauce!

Cornbread

(adapted from Simply Recipes)

  • 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings or cooking oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup corn, pureed
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Pour the bacon drippings or oil in a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet and place it in the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F with the skillet inside.

Whisk together the egg, corn puree and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, soda, salt and sugar (if using). Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and stir to combine. Add melted butter. When the oven has preheated, remove the skillet with a sturdy potholder and spread the batter evenly in the hot skillet.

Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned and a tester comes out clean. Let the cornbread cool in the skillet for at least ten minutes before serving.

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