Hoppin’ John: black-eyed beans and rice
“Big Daddy loves Hoppin’ John.”
“Yais, he simply adores it! “
– Tennessee Williams, “Cat on a hot tin roof”
Continuing the beans theme, I’m going to present two American bean dishes, one from the South, one from the North.
As you might guess from the Tennessee Williams quote, Hoppin’ John is from the South – apparently originally from around Charleston.
There’s some competing stories about where the name comes from: from children hopping around the table before eating, or a saying, “Hop in John”, meaning for a guest to sit down to eat, or a cripple named John hawking peas on the streets of Charleston.
Anyway, it’s supposed to be a good-luck food on New Year’s Day as well: “eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year. Rice for riches and peas for peace.”
(Personally, that rhyme reminds me of an old Patrick Cook cartoon, of an old bluesman singing, “Pork an’ beans/Am number one/Beans fo’ de wind, and pork fo’ de fun!”)
Oh – as is probably obvious, the photo isn’t mine. I must’ve forgotten to take one that day. If I’ve infringed your copyright, send me a nasty email and I’ll take it down 🙂
What do I need?
Be aware that this recipe serves 10! So unless you’ve got a big family, or you’re happy to eat the leftovers for a couple of days, you could cut the amounts down appropriately.
- A dash of olive oil
- 1 large ham hock*
- 2 large chopped onions
- 2 or 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 green capsicum, chopped
- 2 or 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 500g black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
- 1 ½ litres of chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
*Don’t be tempted to use a bacon bone – you’ll find the result to be very salty. Almost Dead-Sea-salty – I’ll lay bets you couldn’t drown in it.
What do I do?
Heat the oil in a large soup pot, and sear the ham hock on each side for a few minutes.
Add the onion, celery, capsicum and garlic, and cook until softened.
Now add the black-eyed peas, stock, herbs and seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, until the peas are cooked. Be sure not to cook the peas too high, because the boiling will tear the skin of the peas. Patience and a slower cooking heat will reward you with a soft, creamy texture in the peas.
As you may have guessed, this goes a treat in the slow cooker as well. Just sear the hock and fry the onions, celery, capsicum and garlic in a frypan, then add to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. 4-6 hours on Low should do nicely.
Serve with rice and cornbread, or any kind of good, crusty bread.