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For your New Year’s Day feast: A Hoppin’ John recipe from our favorite Nashville food expert

photo by Tavallai on Flickr
photo by Tavallai on Flickr


Across the world on New Year’s Eve, we’ll watch fireworks, raise glasses and share midnight kisses. But one New Year’s tradition is special, just to the South: a New Year’s Day feast of Hoppin’ John.

The dish itself is simple and delicious, built on rice, pork and peas, and the mythos behind it is festive and fun: Anyone who starts their year with Hoppin’ John is said to enjoy luck and peace in the 364 days to follow.

Although it doesn’t come from Tennessee (historians trace Hoppin’ John back to the South Carolina Low Country), the New Year’s Day dish has been on our plates here for more than a century, and it’ll be on our team’s table come Monday, like it is every year.

When we’re prepping for a New Year’s feast in Nashville, there’s only one place we’ll turn: Nashville food expert and author Jennifer Justus.

Justus wrote the book on fundamentally Southern food — or, well, a book, and a very good one: Nashville Eats: Hot Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuits, and 100 More Southern Recipes from Music City. Along with quintessentially Nashville stories, she shares more than 100 quintessentially Southern recipes, from hot chicken to pimento cheese, inside its pages. (It hit shelves late last year, and you can buy Nashville Eats through online retailers and at Nashville bookstores, like Parnassus Books in Green Hills.)

She was also kind enough to share her go-to recipe for Hoppin’ John on her blog, A Nasty Bite. Mark it down for Monday:

Hoppin’ John

Adapted from Steve Steinberg’s recipe in GQ
Serves 8

1 ½ cups dried black-eyed peas
1 cup uncooked rice
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
About ¼ pound spicy pork sausage, sliced
About ¼ pound mild chicken sausage, sliced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup beer (I like to use Yazoo Dos Perros.)

1. Place black-eyed peas in a deep pot. Add enough cold water to cover by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until peas are soft. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Drain peas, reserving the liquid and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, sauté onion and peppers in oil for 5 minutes. Add sausage slices and sauté for another 5 minutes or until onions are almost clear. Add rice and stir to coat. Add drained black-eyed peas, spices, 2 cups of the reserved liquid and beer. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Stir, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from stove and let sit for 10 minutes.

3. Serve with cornbread, collard greens and hot sauce (I like Frank’s).

Head to Jennifer Justus’ blog for more about why Hoppin’ John should be on your New Year’s Day table.

We hope 2017 is full of luck and peace for you and yours. If the New Year is also going to be one of big changes — a new city, new neighborhood, new home — please give us a shout. We’d love to help you find the perfect place!

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