Hoppin' John

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

OK, Southerners - tell me about Hoppin' John. That dish isn't part of our culture here in the Ozarks, so my wife and I just recently discovered it when two canned brands appeared in our local markets. There's a big difference between the two - one brand is blackeyed peas, tomatoes, onions, and peppers, and the peppers are HOT. The other brand has the same ingredients plus rice, and it isn't nearly as hot. We like the second one better.

I know my wife can make it better than the canned versions. For a start I got some frozen purple-hull peas (I like those better than blackeyes). I also did some reading about it and found that the real name sounds similar to "Hoppin' John" in a West African language, and the dish was introduced to this country by slaves. Cool.

Does anyone here make Hoppin' John, and what can you tell me about it?

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Ozard, B/E peas are not among my fave veggies, but I made these for a New Year's Eve party and they were well received. And yes, the frozen peas are much better than the dried. Below is the recipe I used, and the only change I made was to add a couple jalapenos--whole and then fished out before serving. ~pen

Emeril Lagasse

Yield: 10 Servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large ham hock
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
3 cups steamed white rice
Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Although I am really a Southerner, Hoppin' John was not on our table much when I was growing up. However, I DO make it, simply because it's traditional for the New Year Celebrations.

In my family, tradition was collard greens and black-eyes peas, but no rice. Last year I grew "rice cowpeas" (from Baker's Creek, http://rareseeds.com/rice-pea-cowpea.html) and they'd be good in Hoppin' John, plus they cook faster than most field peas, but my crop was too meager. This year I'm going to try growing Sea Island Red Peas http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/programs/ark_product_detail/sea_island_red_peas/ , which are also a cowpea and almost always used by the native (Gullah) population in coastal SC for Hoppin' John if they're available.

There are a gazillion recipes for Hoppin' John, but I've never seen one without rice. (And, I personally don't like it made with lots of hot peppers.)

Hoppin' John

A southern classic with vidalia onions and sliced hot peppers, Hoppin' John is delicious sprinkled with cider vinegar or a little artichoke relish on the side.

1/2 lb. slab bacon or ham hock
2 cups field peas or black eyed peas (fresh, frozen, or dried. If using dried peas, soak overnight in cold water)
1 tsp. salt
1 med. Vidalia onion diced.
1 or 2 small cayenne peppers, seeded and very thinly sliced. (optional)
1/4 cup cider vinegar (optional)
1 cup long-grain rice

Cook bacon or ham hock in 2 quarts of water about 30 to 45 minutes. Add peas and salt (check first to see how salty the water is from the hocks/bacon). Continue cooking at a soft boil for 30 minutes or until peas are almost tender. Add rice, onion, and pepper. Boil 15 to 18 minutes. Lift out bacon or ham hock. Drain peas and rice thoroughly. Put over low heat for a few minutes or until rice is fluffy. Stir only with a fork.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Like Darius, I am a southerner who did not have Hoppin' John as part of my childhood upbringing but it has been part of our New Year's tradition for almost forty years since I've been a Georgia resident. To me Hoppin' John is flavored blackeyed or field peas. The end. The rice is integral to the dish but not what is Hoppin' John. If the peas are flavored correctly they are Hoppin' John and then that goes over rice. Gumbo does not automatically mean a dish with rice but maybe served over rice.

I would never use frozen peas as the peas come from the garden and have been dried but whatever you prefer. I always use blackeyed peas but blackeyed peas taste mealy if not cooked right. They cook faster than other beans. We use dried beans (blackeyed peas) in stock, onions and peppers as well as home smoked meats. The general idea is to not have a meat main dish but to have smokey meat in the beans served over rice and then greens (preferably collards) and assorted relish/piccalilli sides. It goes along with the idea of preserved and dried garden eating come winter. I add some hot peppers to the mix but keep it relatively mild and serve with homemade hot sauce on the side. The Hoppin' John in my house is served over rice with greens on the side.

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

I learned this hoppin john recipe from my MIL (who is from Georgia) and we eat this several times a month (or more) in the summer when the tomatoes and cukes are coming in. We like it vegetarian (kosher) but some people put fried bacon crumbles on it.

2 - 4 cups cooked white or brown rice (just cooked so it's still hot)
seasoned black eyed peas (doesn't matter if they are cooked from dried, frozen or canned)
Italian dressing (or home made dressing made from extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, chopped garlic cloves)

Chopped raw vegetables 2 or 3 stalks celery
1 or 2 large tomatoes or a bunch of cherry tomatoes
1 or 2 cucumbers
1/4 onion (optional)

Once the rice and peas are prepared/cooked, and the vegetables are chopped up and mixed in a bowl, you are ready to put this together for eating. Put a couple of big spoons of rice on your plate and spread/flatten it out. Top the rice with a couple of spoons of black eyed peas (the liquid they were cooked in is good too). Then top that with a couple of big spoons of the chopped raw vegetables. Top it all with Italian dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
note: Some people like hot sauce on this instead of Italian dressing.

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