New Year’s Day dinner, with its accompanying football games, is a family ritual that I’ve missed since moving to New England. For me, cornbread on New Year’s Day is important, as are the hog-flavored black-eyed peas with onion that one eats for good luck in the coming year.
One of the first dishes my mom showed me how to make was Hoppin’ John, with its rice and meat and black-eyed peas, and I make it in years when I’m away from my family on New Year’s Day.
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1 pound sausage
1 vidalia onion, chopped
1.5 cups dried white rice
0.5 teaspoon ground black pepper
0.5 teaspoon cayenne
0.5 teaspoon cumin
0.5 teaspoon thyme, rosemary, or sage
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
Soak washed peas in cold water overnight.
Brown the sausage over medium-high heat. Set aside and reserve the liquids. Cook onion in the sausage liquids for 6-8 minutes over medium heat, until the onion turns translucent. Add powdered spices while the onion cooks.
Add 6 cups water and bay leaf and sausage and bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes and add peas. Keep at a low boil for 25 minutes, uncovered, until peas are almost tender. Add rice and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Stop cooking. Remove from heat, keeping the lid on, for 5 minutes. Toss with fork and serve hot.
That’s the basic recipe, at least. I’ve got some shrimp shells that will help flavor the 6 cups of water when I make a broth today, and some cilantro that I’ll add at the last 5 minutes.
Happy New Year to you, reader. I hope the stroke of midnight finds you with money in your pocket and someone in your arms.