For the past several years I’ve been sharing recipe variations on Southern foods that are traditionally eaten for good luck at New Year’s – black-eyed peas and rice (representing coins) and greens (representing folding money), in the form of soups, salads and Hoppin’ John in different permutations.

Since the day is already upon us, I’m thinking that a shortened up version of the classic might be in order, along with a recipe for crispy kale that I’m often asked about. If you don’t have the ingredients on hand today, just postpone this scrumptious ingestion of good luck until the weekend.

Shortened-Up Hoppin’ John

No one really knows the origin of the name – some say “John” was invited in to hop around the table – but Low Country South Carolinians and other Southerners swear they need to eat this rice-beans-smoked pork dish in order to start the new year properly.

Goya and Bush’s are both good brands of peas and beans. If you can find frozen black-eyed peas, which are even better, buy two 10-ounce bags.

Serves 4 to 6.

½ pound bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup thinly sliced celery, including some celery leaves

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained

4 cups water

1 cup raw long-grain rice

1 bay leaf, broken in half

¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon black pepper

For garnish: Chopped red onion, white wine vinegar, olive oil, liquid red pepper sauce

Cook bacon in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat until fat is rendered and bacon is browned, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon bits with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, leaving drippings in pan. Measure drippings. You will need 3 tablespoons. If bacon is very lean, add butter to make up the difference.

Add onion to drippings and cook over medium heat until beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add celery and garlic and cook 1 minute. Add water, along with peas, rice, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and cook covered until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Mixture should be slightly soupy. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt if necessary. Scatter with reserved bacon before serving and pass chopped onion, vinegar, olive oil, and red pepper sauce at the table for dressing.

Crispy Kale

After a recipe for crispy kale was published in The New York Times a few years ago, it went viral on the Internet, becoming one of the hottest “new” food phenomena ever. It is amazingly delicious. Any variety of the leafy green will work here – regular curly kale, red Russian kale, or Tuscan, which is also called lacinto or black kale.

Serves about 4.

1 large bunch kale, washed, toughest stems removed

1½ tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt or kosher salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dry kale leaves with paper towels and cut crosswise into strips about 1 inch wide. Spread out onto one or two rimmed baking sheets, drizzle with oil, and toss with hands to coat leaves evenly.

Bake for 10 minutes. Use tongs to redistribute kale on baking sheet, return to oven, and continue to bake until kale is lightly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:


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