A Bowl of Good Luck

Leftover ham is put to good use in this humble dish.

Todd Coleman

Working on our magazine feature ** The Wonders of Ham,** I came across a lot of recipes not just for holiday roasts but also for terrific dishes made with all that ham you didn't eat the first time around (see ** Lovely Leftovers**). My favorite has got to be hoppin' John, a humble dish of black-eyed peas and rice, sometimes served with collard greens, that's typically eaten on New Year's Day and is said to bring good luck. There's no consensus on how this specialty—adored in much of the South—got its name, but the food is likely a descendant of similar, Afro-Caribbean dishes that make use of field peas or other legumes. Most recipes I've seen call for flavoring the rice and peas with bacon or fatback, but I'm fonder of using a leftover ham bone and ham scraps to make a more souplike, all-in-one version that can be ladled over rice. I can't think of a more comforting antidote to all those holiday feasts.