This recipe is adapted from Cooking in Old Creole Days, by Celestine Eustis (Derrydale Press, New York, 1928). It’s a traditional New Year’s Day dish in the South. Legend has it that it must be eaten before noon to guarantee good luck. In some families, a coin is buried in the rice and peas just before serving, ensuring a fortunate year for the finder.
Soak the peas overnight in water to cover. Drain and put into a soup pot with the water, onion, bay leaf, and parsley. Simmer until the peas are done, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the bacon and sausage, if using. Add to the peas and season with salt. Add the rice to the dish and cook about 15 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and let the dish dry out, about 15 minutes longer.