Make Hoppin John on New Year's Day for Good Luck in 2021

Because we could all use some luck this new year.

December 30, 2020
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If you’re looking for a delicious dish to enjoy on New Year’s Day, Kardea Brown has just the thing for you. In her newest cooking class on the Food Network Kitchen app, Kardea walks fans through a Gullah classic, Hoppin John.

“It’s basically a one-pot dish with black-eyed peas or some type of field peas and rice, and it’s traditionally served on New Year’s Day in African American households in the South,” Kardea says. She prepares her black-eyed peas by covering them with water and simmering them in a Dutch oven. To give her peas additional smokey and briny flavor, Kardea adds another ingredient into her pot: a piece of smoked turkey leg. “This dish is all about building flavors,” she says. If you’re not able to find a turkey leg, fret not! A ham hock will do just fine — you just want something that has a ton of salt!

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To add to her Hoppin John, Kardea also sautés finely diced red bell peppers, yellow onion and minced garlic. This trio of ingredients not only infuses the dish with a subtle sweetness, it also adds nice pops of color too. To ensure that you get the most out of your garlic, Kardea advises waiting until the very last minute to add it in with the rest of your cooked vegetables: “I don’t add the garlic early on because I like a full flavor of garlic, so the secret to that is adding garlic towards the end of the cooking.”

She then adds two cups of long-grain white rice in with her sauteed veggies, noting that doing so will completely transform the rice’s overall taste and texture. “What we’re doing now is toasting the rice. It’s going to give the rice a little nutty flavor and it’s also going to help prepare the rice to absorb all of the [other] flavors we’re going to put in here,” Kardea shares.

Next comes the final and most important step: adding the cooked black-eyed peas into the rice and vegetable mixture. While other Hoppin John recipes call for the peas and rice to be cooked together, Kardea’s trick of cooking them separately makes all the difference. “I like doing this separately because I find that it makes a drier, fluffier black-eyed pea ... I find that it makes a less mushy Hoppin John ... In a Gullah household, you've got to have a fluffy, dry Hoppin John.”

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