Hoppin’ John

New Year's Day Dinner

Note from Chef Ed:

A lot of people think they know where the name Hoppin’ John came from for this traditional southern New Year’s dish. They are wrong. No one knows. There a theories (my favorite is that it is a southern bastardization of a similar French dish “pois a pigeon” or pigeon peas) but none are based in fact. Just like Chili or tacos, the exact origins of both the name and the dish are lost to the annals of time. We do know it hails from African slaves who wanted to make a rice and beans dish that reminded them of home.

Hoppin’ John

1 ½ cups of fresh or dries black eyed peas (dried will require more cooking time)

16 ounces of bacon ends and pieces  (best bought from Trader Joe’s or Fresh and Easy. Alternatively ask your butcher for the trimmings from his center cut bacon.)

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper (green may be substituted)

3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red chili flakes (cayenne pepper, chili powder, or 1 dried chile can be substituted)

4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 or 2 bay leaves

3 or 4 green onions sliced on a bias, for garnish

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups cooked white rice (from 1 ½ dried rice)

  1. In a dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown the bacon ends. Remove from the pot and reserve for later.
  2. Sautee the onion and bell pepper in the bacon fat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Meanwhile, slice bacon thinly into bite-sized strips.
  4. Add black eyed peas, thyme, bay leaf, chili flakes, salt and pepper, and continue to sauté for 5 minutes.
  5. Return sliced bacon to the pot. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes for fresh peas or 1½ hours for dried peas or until peas are creamy. Add more broth or water if too much liquid evaporates.
  6. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions and shredded cheddar.