Though Spices Inc World Headquarters is currently stationed firmly in Central Pennsylvania, our culinary influences and recipes are pulled in from kitchens all over the country. For the basis of our last recipe of the year, Chef Jeff decided to re-imagine a New Year’s classic brought to us from one of our Texas-born owners: Hoppin’ John.
For most of us who are from Pennsylvania, a prominent New Year’s staple is usually based on the Dutch custom of Pork (or hot dogs) and sauerkraut. Pork is thought to bring luck and fortune in some western cultures, and superstition warns against eating any kind of poultry on New Year’s or like a bird, you’ll be scratching for money all year. In that same thread of wishing for more money in the new year, Hoppin’ John is thought to symbolize coins and wealth. Traditionally Hoppin’ John is made with some of ham or pork, but we decided to go plant-based on our dish after all that heavy holiday food- but we spruced it up with a lot of different flavors and spices, and stuffed a few extra vegetables in there instead.
We did stick to using black-eyed peas for the dish, but you could swap it out for another kind of bean or peas if they’re not really your thing. The flavor of this dish comes from the aromatics Jeff incorporated using the “holy trinity” style of Mirepoix- instead of carrots, onions, and celery, a Cajun-style mirepoix uses bell peppers, onions, and celery (+ garlic). After softening our mirepoix to warm them and get them fragrancing our dish, Jeff added his Creole Seasoning and all the other ingredients besides the smoked salt. Adding Creole Seasoning AFTER the base vegetables have been softened means that the heat and flavor of the seasoning has more of a starring role in the dish, as it is being less cooked out (though still incorporated). Our Creole Seasoning contains paprika, granulated onion, granulated garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and celery seed meaning it has a few aromatic and herbal components while lending a bit of a kick from the pepper(s). When the dish was completely cooked, Jeff finished by garnishing with some smoked flake salt and sliced scallions. Because they both have more delicate flavors and crispness, choosing to add them at the end and not earlier during the cooking process meant their textures stayed more intact. Our Hickory Smoked Flake Salt added a “meaty” flavor to the dish and helped replicate the smoky-salty quality one would normally rely on ham for, but without the chance of tangling yourself up in any bad luck. Spoon up a bowl, put on some Honeymooners, and have a Happy New Year!!!
- 1 ½ Cups Black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 Cup Brown rice, cooked
- ¼ Cup onion, diced
- ½ Cup Red bell pepper, diced
- 1 Rib of celery, diced
- 2-3 Cloves of garlic, minced fine
- ½ Of an Acorn squash, cooked and cubed
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
- 1 tsp Smoked salt, such Smoked Oak Flake Salt, Smoked Mesquite Flake Salt, or Smoked Hickory Flaked Salt
- Scallions- for garnish
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onions, peppers, celery and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add Creole Seasoning, black- eyed peas, rice, and squash. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with smoked salt.
- Garnish with scallions and serve.