Favorite Lowcountry Holiday Recipes: From Hoppin’ John to Pecan Pie

It’s the time of year for cooking and baking for friends and family, and each part of our country has their own favorite foods for the holiday season. We thought we’d share some traditional Lowcountry recipes that are holiday favorites around Charleston, many dating back hundreds of years.

Hoppin’ John

The story goes that if you eat Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, you’ll have good luck throughout the year. Why not give it a try? This classic Lowcountry dish combines black eyed peas, rice and bacon. Here’s a recipe from John Martin Taylor and Epicurious.com:

· 1 cup small dried beans, such as cowpeas or black-eyes

· 5 to 6 cups water

· 1 dried hot pepper (optional)

· 1 smoked ham hock

· 1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

· 1 cup long-grain white rice

Wash and sort the peas. Place them in a saucepan, add the water and discard any peas that float. Gently boil the peas with the pepper, ham hock and onion, uncovered, until tender but not mushy — about 1 1/2 hours — or until 2 cups of liquid remain. Add the rice to the pot, cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, never lifting the lid.

Remove from the heat and allow to steam, still covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover, fluff with a fork, and serve immediately for good luck!

Oyster Dressing

It is oyster season after all, a time where we love to host oyster roasts and eat our oysters grilled, steamed and fried! Bring oysters into your holiday celebration with this delicious recipe for oyster dressing, a southern favorite, from Southern Living:

· 2 medium onions, diced

· 4 celery ribs, diced

· 2 red bell peppers, diced

· 2 green bell peppers, diced

· 4 garlic cloves, minced

· 1/4 cup olive oil

· 2 (8-oz.) containers fresh oysters, drained and coarsely chopped

· 2/3 cup dry white wine

· 1/2 cup chicken broth

· 1/4 cup butter

· 3 bay leaves

· 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

· 2 teaspoons black pepper

· 1 teaspoon salt

· 1 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

· 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

· 2 large eggs

· 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

· Cornbread, crumbled

· Garnishes: fresh parsley sprig, grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°. Sauté first five ingredients in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Stir in oysters and next nine ingredients; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until edges of oysters begin to curl. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Place mixture in a large bowl; stir in eggs and cheese. Fold in cornbread. Place mixture in a lightly-greased 3-qt. or 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish, if desired.

Note: To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed through Step 2. Cover tightly, and freeze up to one month. Thaw in refrigerator 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Pecan Pie

All holiday meals must be finished with something sweet, and a holiday just isn’t a holiday in the south without pecan pie as at least one option. Here’s a scrumptious Pecan Pie recipe courtesy of Carrie Morey, owner of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits (which are delicious if you’ve never had any!) as printed in Country Living magazine.

· 1 Pie Crust

· 1 cup(s) pecan halves

· 2 tablespoon(s) butter, melted

· 1/2 teaspoon(s) Kosher salt

· 1 cup(s) sugar

· 1 cup(s) dark corn syrup

· 1 tablespoon(s) dark rum

· 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract

· 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Whipped cream, optional

With pie crust dough between two pieces of wax paper, roll it out to a 1/4-inch-thick, 12-inch-diameter circle. Remove wax paper and transfer dough to a 9-inch pie pan. Trim overhang. Crimp the edge of the dough with your fingers and use a fork to prick the bottom of the dough in several spots. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover prepared pie shell with parchment, leaving a bit of overhang, and add enough pie weights or dried beans to cover bottom. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights, and bake crust until golden brown, 5 to 7 more minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine pecans with 1 tablespoon butter and salt. Spread on a baking pan and toast until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine sugar, corn syrup, rum, vanilla, and remaining butter. Stir in eggs. Add toasted pecans. Pour filling into cooled piecrust.

Bake on the bottom rack until the center of the pie feels gelatin-like when pressed with the back of a spoon, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Benne Wafers

Another good finale to your holiday meal is the famous Charleston Benne Wafer. These sweet and salty cracker/cookies have been made in the Lowcountry since colonial times. These also make great holiday gifts, as something distinct and yummy from Charleston. Here’s a recipe from DiscoverSouthCarolina.com:

Ingredients

· ¾ cup butter

· 1 ½ cups brown sugar

· 2 eggs

· 1 ½ cups flour

· ½ cup sesame (benne) seeds

· 1 teaspoon vanilla

· ¼ teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together and mix with other ingredients in the order given. Drop with a teaspoon onto a well-greased cookie pan, far enough apart to allow spreading while baking. Bake in a 325º F oven for 7-10 minutes.

Yield: 7 dozen.

What are the must-have dishes at your holiday celebration?

For more information about new Charleston homes, visit www. Sabalhomessc.com or call 843-388-8483. Happy cooking!