Located in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the region east of the sand hills to the coast, Folly Beach is where I spent much time and most of my holidays as a child. My grandparents were full-time residents of the small island community just outside of Charleston, SC. And like a magnet, it pulled us back every chance we got to steal away for a few days.
During the holidays it was a given we would be at Folly, especially for New Years. My Nana threw a big New Year’s Day bash every year, with a full spread of traditional southern New Year’s Day fare. I remember fondly the platefuls of fried hog jowls that she began frying early in the day. By the time the plate was piled high with the golden goodness, we could’ve completed a full triple lutz on her well oiled linoleum floor.
The pile of hog jowls was only one of the menu items that graced the table the first day of every year. Collard greens and my personal favorite, Hoppin’ John, a flavorful blend of black-eyed peas and rice, accented with pork, also shared in the glory on those days.
Each dish is symbolic: the pork represents progress in the new year; the collards, being green like money, prosperity; and the Hoppin’ John, all-around good luck.
And sakes alive, I ate my weight in good luck. And that’s a lot of good luck, man.
Hoppin’ John is a dish that elevates the most basic ingredients to a place all its own. Yummy stuff y’all.
If you’ve never enjoyed Hoppin’ John, southern or not, you should give it a go this year. And with my Nana’s recipe you’ll rock it for sure. Be sure to let me know how it goes.
Wishing you a Happy New Year full of all things good and tasty!
- 1½ cups dried black-eyed peas (note: there will be peas leftover to serve as a side)
- 8 cups water, divided
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 small ham hock (or ¼ lb. hog jowl)
- 5 slices of thick cut bacon (or hog jowl)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- Over medium heat, place the dried black-eyed peas, 6 cups of water, salt and ham hock. Cook covered over medium heat until tender.
- While the peas are cooking, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon, crumble and set aside, reserving the bacon grease.
- Sauté chopped onion in the bacon grease until softened.
- In a large sized sauce pan, with a tight-fitting lid, add the rice, 2 cups of the the pea liquid, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of the cooked black-eyed peas, sautéed onions, bacon grease, crumbled bacon and red pepper flakes.
- Cook covered over medium-low heat until rice is done, about 15-20 minutes. If needed add more pea liquid if rice gets too dry.