Last-Minute Hoppin’ John

Try this traditional New Year's treat

No matter how you like your Hoppin’ John—with black-eyed peas or with the smaller red field peas—there’s no debating this southern staple’s place at the dinner table, where it is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day by anyone seeking prosperity and wealth in the coming year.

Arguably, no one knows this dish better than James Beard award-winning chef, Robert Stehling, who regularly features this “meal in a pot” at his restaurant, Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina. While Stehling adds signature twists such as heirloom Sea Island field peas and Benton’s hickory smoked country bacon, just one taste of this dish will remind you once again that fortune begins with a full stomach.

Better start soaking those field peas—the clock is ticking.

Hoppin’ John
(serves 30, so share the wealth)

1 quart dried field peas  (Stehling’s prefers Sea Island Heirloom variety from Anson Mills)
4-5 slices bacon  (Stehling’s prefers Benton’s hickory smoked country bacon)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups onion, diced 
¾ cup celery, diced 
1 cup carrot, diced 
3 quarts chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon pepper
pinch of red pepper
1 tablespoon salt
7 cups rice
2 cups diced tomato, peeled and seeded
1 small bunch of chives, chopped

Soak peas overnight in hot tap water. Use three times as much water as dried peas. Render bacon in heavy saucepan. Add garlic and vegetables and sauté until tender. Add drained peas, chicken stock, herbs, and spices (except salt). Simmer until peas are tender. Gently bring everything to a boil, add salt and rice and cover. Reduce heat to low after it returns to a boil—do not open lid. Remove from heat after 17 minutes and let sit for another 10 minutes, covered. Mix in diced tomatoes and chives, and it’s ready to serve.