As a lifelong Charlestonian, Amber Forbes has eaten hoppin’ John on every New Year’s Day she can remember. But she hasn’t always prepared it the same way.
“I’ve tried making it in every way you could imagine, (including) the Instant Pot and Crock Pot, but nothing can beat making the peas in a Dutch oven,” Forbes says, adding, “And I prefer for the peas to be in one pot and the rice to be cooked in another.”
Forbes, who’s been posting her recipes at slimpickinskitchen.com since 2011 when a series of health problems inspired her to seek healing in creativity, says she’s also experimented with various flavorings.
“The shining standout was leftover holiday ham,” she says of its role in this dish. “I just freeze a couple slabs of our Christmas swine, and use them to naturally sweeten and season both my collard greens and hoppin’ John.”
Amber Forbes' hoppin' John
2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1/2 large sweet onion (about 1 cup), chopped
3 stalks celery (about 1 cup), chopped
1 cup green, yellow and/or red bell peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic (about 3 cloves), finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1 teaspoon), finely chopped
1 1/2 cups leftover holiday ham, or another 4 slices of bacon
4 cups frozen black-eyed peas
8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, for garnish
Pickled jalapeno, chopped (optional)
3 cups Carolina Gold rice, cooked
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat, until slightly crisp. Add onion, celery, bell peppers, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally until tender. Stir in ham and black-eyed peas. Stir in stock.
Add bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until peas are tender and the liquid has slightly reduced. Discard bay leaves. Stir in fresh parsley and chopped pickled jalapeno, if desired, and serve over Carolina Gold rice.
Editor’s note: Amber Forbes’ hoppin’ John is one of four competing in The Post and Courier Food section’s recipe contest for a category crown. Over the course of a year, the newspaper will publish four reader-supplied recipes for each of 12 iconic Lowcountry dishes.
Featured recipes have been lightly edited to conform with the newspaper’s style, but they have not been tested: It’s up to readers to choose a winner. To weigh in on the okra soup race, join us at bit.ly/PCfoodFBgroup.