For several years now, Pete and I have enjoyed a New Year’s Day tradition of inviting friends to our house for hoppin’ john, greens and cornbread.
Hoppin’ john is a traditional southern dish made with black-eyed peas and rice, and is said to bring good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day. My husband, who grew up in East Tennessee, brought the recipe with him when he moved to Illinois.
As usual, I’ve modified the recipe somewhat to meet my dietary restrictions. For my version of hoppin’ john, I use brown rice – the frozen kind for convenience. I’ve actually come to prefer brown rice for its nutty texture. Plus, it has more healthy fiber than the more heavily processed white rice. I cook the bacon separately and drain off the grease before adding it to the recipe, which allows me to add some delicious bacon flavor without so much saturated fat, and I sauté the onion and pepper separately in olive oil. I use Tony Chachere’s no-salt seasoning blend in place of salt. Low sodium chicken broth adds flavor.
We serve the dish with greens and cornbread, which are said to further ensure prosperity for the coming year. For the cornbread, I use Martha White self-rising buttermilk corn meal mix, and follow the recipe on the back of the package. This brand of corn meal mix does NOT have added sugar, which not only makes it better for my diabetic diet, but also more authentically southern.
Most years, our friends bring their own favorite dishes, along with their musical instruments, making for a great potluck feast and jam session. What better way to start the New Year off right?
Unfortunately, this year we’ll be celebrating with just the two of us because of the pandemic. But our friends will be with us in spirit, and the leftover hoppin’ john freezes very well.
This recipe makes about eight one-cup servings.
- 2 10-ounce packages frozen whole grain brown rice
- 1 12-ounce package frozen black-eyed peas
- 3 slices bacon, crumbled
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Tony Cachere’s no-salt seasoning blend
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 32-ounce carton low-sodium chicken broth
Combine black-eyed peas and chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Thaw the brown rice in the refrigerator overnight, or heat in the microwave oven following package directions.
Cook the bacon on a plate lined and covered with paper towels in the microwave oven for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp, and crumble the bacon.
Sauté the onion and pepper in olive oil until tender and caramelized, and sprinkle in the no-salt seasoning, red pepper and black pepper.
Combine rice, black-eyed peas (with broth), bacon and sautéed vegetables. Add one cup water and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Pour into baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in 425-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Stir again and serve hot.
Serving size: 1 cup | Calories: 240 | Carbohydrates: 38 g | Protein: 8 g | Fat: 6 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 3 mg | Sodium: 125 mg | Potassium: 305 mg | Fiber: 4 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 1% | Vitamin C: 20% | Calcium: 1.5% | Iron: 6%