Before you read on, I must tell you that this recipe lacks two main hoppin’ john ingredients: rice and salt pork. So it’s not quite exactly hoppin’ john.
Confused about who John is and why he’s doing all that hoppin’, anyway?
For all y’all non-Southerners, here’s some background:
Legend has it that this magical plate of food will bestow the eater with wealth and good fortune in the new year–and considering this meal’s easy-on-the-wallet ingredients and its hearty, homey flavors, I’d say it succeeds on both counts.
Anyway, rice and salt pork aside, our dinner last night did include the obligatory beans, greens, and cornbread, and it was certainly a fortunate experiment.
What you can see: savory cornmeal pancakes topped with a mess o’ collard greens.
Man, oh man.
What’s in it (the collard greens):
- 1 tablespoon butter (or bacon/sausage grease for some yummy, porky flavor)
- yield from 1 pound of collard greens, stems removed, washed, and chopped
- 1 cup broth/stock (we used chicken)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (we used habanero hot sauce from TaylOrganic, a local purveyor of excellent canned goods)
- 1 tablespoon sorghum syrup (you can sub molasses or brown sugar)
- Heat the fat of your choice in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Toss the collard greens into the fat and stir them around for about 10 minutes or until they start to wilt.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10-15 minutes or until the collard greens are tender.
(Most collard green recipes call for the leaves to be boiled in large quantities of liquid for an hour or more, but we thought these turned out perfectly tender in very little liquid and less than half the time. Maybe the 10 minutes of sauteing helps…?)
What’s in it (the cornmeal pancakes–heavily adapted from this recipe):
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
- Heat a skillet or electric griddle on medium to medium-high heat (about 350-375°F)–you’ll know it’s ready if a drop of water will skitter around on the surface.
- Mix together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Pour the water over the dry ingredients and mix to form a thick paste.
- Stir in the melted butter, then the eggs, then the Greek yogurt.
- Use a ladle or measuring cup to spoon about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. (I got 8 pancakes doing it this way.)
- Cook the pancakes for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they’re nice and golden brown.
(My pancakes omit the sugar from the original recipe because true Southern cornbread isn’t sweet, and I also left out the flour to really play up the cornmeal-y taste. I also subbed Greek yogurt for the buttermilk, just because I could. Finally, I skipped and combined some steps at the beginning. Blame my friend Lazy for that one.)
If you follow all these steps, you’ll have four servings, with two pancakes per person. But, of course, if you’re really hungry or just don’t want leftovers, you could easily make two massive servings instead. (We were tempted to do this, but decided we didn’t want to have to roll ourselves away from the table!)
To put it all together, start each plate with one cornmeal pancake. Top it with a generous dollop of black-eyed pea hummus, then another pancake, then a towering pile of collard greens. Finish by spooning a good-sized ladle of potlikker over the top of the whole thing. Enjoy with beer, or an ice-cold glass of sweet tea.
I promise–you’ll feel quite lucky indeed.