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In  the South, the New Years tradition is to serve Hoppin' John.   Legend has it that if you eat this 'peasHoppin' John and rice' on New Years Day you will have luck and fortune in the coming year.   

This  dish comes from the Low Country and the Gullah society.   A shiny dime was often buried among the black-eyed peas before serving.   Whoever got the coin in his or her portion was assured good luck throughout the year. The legend is that for maximum good luck in the new year, the first thing that should be eaten on New year's Day is Hoppin' John.  At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, many southern families still toast each other with Champagne and a bowl of Hoppin' John. If it is served with collard greens you might, or might not, get rich during the coming year

There are several stories about how the dish got it's name.  The one that resonated with me most was the one about an old, crippled street vendor in Charleston, South Carolina who sold this dish and because of his physical problems he was known as Hoppin' John.

I've never been one to question the wisdom of this old Southern tradition, especially one that tastes as good as this one does.    Of course you don't have to wait until New Years Day to have some Hoppin' John, you can make it any time you like.
Serve it with some collard greens and cornbread and, my oh my!!


1 pound dried black-eyed peas
2 small smoked ham hocks or a very meaty ham bone
2 medium onions, divided
3 large cloves garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 can (10 to 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with chili peppers,(such as RoTel) juices reserved
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 jalapeno (seed and de-vein)
2 teaspoons Tony Chachere's or other Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, sliced

1.  In a large Dutch oven or kettle, combine the black-eyed peas, ham bone or ham hocks, and 6 cups water. Cut 1 of the onions in half and add it to the pot along with the garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer very gently until the peas are tender but not mushy.  Don't boil the peas or they will become too soft and fall apart.  Check after about an hour to see if the peas are softening up.

2.   Remove the ham bone or hocks, cut off the meat; dice and set aside. Drain the peas and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf, onion pieces, and garlic.

3.  Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and simmer until the rice is starting to soften, about 10  minutes.

4.  Mince the remaining onion then add to the rice along with the peas, tomatoes, and their juices, red and green bell pepper, celery, jalapeno pepper, Creole seasoning, thyme, cumin, and salt. Cook until the rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the sliced green onions and the reserved diced ham.