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Oh, Hoppin' John: this Southern beans and rice dish has been a hot topic of discussion over the years. From Sean Brock to Paula Dean, it seems like every Southern chef has tried their hand at capturing the perfect recipe for this New Years staple.
And I've tried them all over the years, searching for the Hoppin' John recipe that was just right. Eventually, all of the Hoppin' John recipes blurred together in my mind, and I was no longer experimenting with any single recipe or style, but my own amalgamation of everything I tried and loved or learned from when making Hoppin' John for our New Years Day meal.
The most important thing I learned was to NOT use black eyed peas.
Yeah, that's right. Don't use black eyed peas in Hoppin' John. The flavor is too strong and unbalanced. The texture too dry unless you luck out and get the perfect bag of dried beans or are able to find fresh beans, and even then ... meh. Don't use black eyed peas.
No black eyed peas?? Then how do I make Hoppin' John?
Use red peas. That's right: red peas. They are mild but not without flavor, and the texture is delightfully tender without turning to mush on a whim.
Eat poor, be rich
I buy mine directly from Anson Mills. <-- That's not an affiliate link, nor do I have any affiliation at all with them. I'm sharing it because they are the best, and that's all there is to it. While you're there though, pick up a bag of Carolina Gold Rice and perhaps some Benne Seeds.
Hoppin' John should be a combination of three things: rich mildly-smokey flavor with distinct, tender beans ( no mushy beans! ) in a thick sauce that can be mixed up with the rice and sopped up with Jiffy cornbread.
Jiffy, y'all. No shame in my game here.
What to serve with Hoppin' John?
If you've never made rice the traditional Lowcountry way then I highly suggest you check it out to serve with your New Years Hoppin Jon. It's life-changing:
And don't forget to serve your Hoppin' John with some steamed collard greens topped with pepper sauce!
- 1 cup Red Peas soaked overnight or quick soaked
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 small yellow onion diced ( about 3/4 cup diced onion )
- 1 rib celery quartered
- 1 carrot quartered
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves diced
- 4 strips thick cut bacon sliced into 1/4" pieces
- In a large stockpot set over medium heat, cook the bacon pieces for 5 minutes.
- Add the diced onion and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the onion softens.
- Stir in the carrot, celery, and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the red peas, broth, and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let simmer uncovered for one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Now, mash up about 1/3rd of the beans in the pot. You can remove 1/3rd of the beans with about 1/3rd of the liquid with a ladle and blend them in the blender, or you can put your stick blender directly into the pot and blend until about 1/3rd of the beans are blended into the pot. The latter is my preference.