Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year, Old Tradition

Happy New Year! I know I'm almost two weeks late with the wish, but it's still kindly meant, so please accept it in the spirit intended.

The New Year is a (somewhat arbitrary) time to look at our lives, evaluate and decide what we want to work on in the coming year. For example, I want to post in this blog more often. It's a time full of cultural tradition too, from the ball dropping in Times Square to fireworks to more personal traditions. In my family, I was allowed to stay up to midnight, watch Guy Lombardo and eat smoked oysters. A big treat, really.


This year I decided to see in the new year with a broader cultural tradition, enacted late because I rarely pull these things off on time. I made Hoppin' John. This is a southern dish (though I was introduced to it by a Rhode Islander) made of black-eyed peas and ham hocks. It's said if you eat Hoppin' John and corn bread on New Year's Day you'll be prosperous throughout the year - eat poor on New Year's Day, eat rich throughout the year. I'm hoping the luck of Hoppin' John extends beyond the first of the year, but it doesn't really matter because it's delicious even if the adage doesn't hold up. I've not been able to find the root of the name and would be delighted if you knew.

This recipe, like all my recipes, is approximate.


Slow Cooker Hoppin' John
  • Put 2 cups dry black-eyed peas and 6-7 cups water in a slow cooker. Turn it onto high and leave it alone for an hour or two until the peas begin to soften.
  • Add 3-4 smoked ham hocks, 1-2 chopped onions, chopped collards, 5-6 cloves garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Let it cook for two-three hours.
  • Remove the ham hocks. Cut the skin off and discard. Pull the meat from the bones and return both to the put.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings. It will probably need more salt and pepper. You may want to add some red pepper flakes too.
  • Cook for another hour or so until the beans and collards are well cooked.
  • Serve with corn bread. Enjoy!
(c) 2010 Laura S. Packer