For 30 years, Judy Epps greeted the new year with what she thought were the traditional good-luck foods: Pork, collard greens and black-eyed peas served over rice.
“After learning about real hoppin' John, I changed my menu,” she says. “For the last two decades, I have done it right.”
Epps’ version of hoppin’ John done right follows. Presumably it’s brought her better luck than a pile of separately cooked black-eyed peas and white rice.
Judy Epps’ hoppin’ John
1 cup dried field peas
3 strips bacon
1 cup long grain rice
1 onion, chopped
Examine field peas for “misfits” to pick out, such as twigs or rocks. Add peas to a large pot and cover with water. Soak overnight.
Boil peas over high heat until tender. Remove pot from heat. Drain peas over a large bowl, reserving liquid.
Fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon of grease. Crumble bacon; set aside.
To a medium saucepan, add peas, rice, onion, bacon crumbles, bacon grease and 1½ cups of pea water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Salt to taste.
Editor’s note: Judy Epps’ 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.