“Most folks know about hoppin’ john, the fabled New Year’s Day dish on many a Southern table. That dish, just like the song “Kumbaya,” has its origins among the Gullah Geechee, who planted the peas and rice as subsistence food from beans and seeds carried with them from Africa. We call it Reezy-Peezy and make it year-round. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main dish—or serve over a bowl of Jupiter brown rice.”
Matthew Raiford, excerpted from Bress ‘N’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer.
1¼ pounds Sea Island red peas, covered with water and soaked overnight in the refrigerator
1 yellow onion, peeled, cut through root
end with layers left intact
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 small inner celery ribs, leaves attached,
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small turkish bay leaf
1½ teaspoons curry powder
A healthy pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Drain peas and set aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, bring 1 gallon water to a simmer over mediumhigh heat. Stir in peas, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and curry powder. Return liquid to a simmer, and then reduce heat to low. Cover pan partially and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
- Remove and discard vegetables and bay leaf. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove 4 cups of peas and broth and puree them in a separate bowl with an immersion blender. Return puree to pot with peas (alternately, you can mash a quarter of the peas in the pot with a potato masher). If gravy is too thick, thin it with a bit of warm water or vegetable stock. Then cook again until just heated through. Taste for seasoning.
Adapted FromBress 'N' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. Copyright by Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon, 2021. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.