Hoppin’ John

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Yield:

    4 to 6

    Servings.

Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

Black-eye or black-eyed peas seem to figure ubiquitously on Southern tables, and Yankee visitors seem to look at them askance. They are not necessarily country fare, as many people claim them to be. They appear on the tables of rich and poor, the educated and uneducated alike, and are eaten with equal enthusiasm. They are a basis of the dish known as Hoppin’ John, the origin of which name no one seems to be able to explain. The dish is made with either black-eyed peas or cow peas and rice, and it is certainly one of the most traditional of Southern dishes. It is served in many Southern homes on New Year’s Day to bring all those assembled good luck throughout the year. I am amused to think that in South Carolina there is a dish made of okra and rice called Limping Susan. The first recipe for Hoppin’ John is a modernized version demonstrated for me by Bill Neal, a fine young North Carolina chef.

Ingredients

  • pound streaky bacon or salt pork, cut into small cubes (about ½ cup)
  • cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • cup finely chopped onion
  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • cups water, approximately
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • ¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Garnishes

  • 1 ripe tomato (about ¼ pound), cored
  • ¼ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion, including green part

Method

  • Put the bacon or salt pork in a saucepan and cook, stirring often, until all the cubes are crisp. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
  • Add the peas, garlic, about cups water, or to barely cover, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring to the boil and let simmer, uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Remove from heat.
  • Put the rice in a saucepan and add cups water and salt to taste. Bring to the boil and let simmer 17 minutes. Stir in the butter.
  • Cut the unpeeled tomato into ¼-inch cubes; there should be about 1 cup.
  • Arrange the hot rice in the center of a platter. Spoon the hot pea mixture, including liquid, over the rice. Scatter the cheese over the peas. Place tomato cubes around the rice. Scatter the scallions over the tomatoes. Serve immediately.