It’s traditional to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day in the South. That said, there are no rules saying it couldn’t be in the form of a delectable Hoppin’ John Casserole with Cornbread Crust! This skillet casserole takes black eyed peas to another level with fire roasted tomatoes and chilis, onion, bell pepper, ham and bacon along with a kicked-up combination of seasonings. Smothered with a cornbread topping it’s then baked until the cornbread is golden. Without a doubt, it’s a tasty way to start the new year.
As a little girl, I had absolutely no interest in black eyed peas at all. The affinity for them has grown along with me through the years, and even now I prefer them to be a bit more interesting than the basic version I knew as a girl. By interesting I mean, I love adding some ingredients to enhance the flavor as well as a little heat to elevate them a bit. That’s precisely how I would describe this simple to make Hoppin’ John Casserole with Cornbread Crust. I cook diced poblano pepper along with the onion but, for a less spicy version go with green or red bell pepper in the same amount instead. You can also eliminate the crushed red pepper flakes, if preferred. Serve these alongside a heaping helping of collard greens and your meal is complete be it for New Year’s Day or any other day you choose comfort food for supper.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Hoppin' John Casserole with Cornbread Crust
- 5 slices bacon 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 small poblano or green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 3 16 oz cans black eyed peas drained and rinsed
- 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies
- 1 16 oz can low sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dark chili powder
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes more or less to your taste
- 2 cups chopped smoked ham
- 2 7 oz packages cornbread mix, plus ingredients to prepare (i.e. Martha White)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place peas into a colander and rinse. Set aside to drain.
- In a 12-inch cast iron skillet cook the bacon until crisp over medium-high heat. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve drippings.
- To the drippings add the onion and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown.
- To the skillet add black eyed peas, tomatoes, broth, seasoned salt, cumin, chili powder, lemon pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
- Simmer uncovered over medium for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add ham and mix through. Sprinkle bacon on top.
- In a medium-size bowl, mix together the cornbread batter per the package instructions.
- Pour evenly over the black eyed peas.
- Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the cornbread is cooked through and golden. May broil at the end to brown further, if desired.
- Serve immediately with collard greens and hot sauce on the side.