As Southern as it is delicious, this traditional black eyed pea recipe enjoys the rich flavors of pork, bell peppers, onion, celery, herbs and spices served over rice. Hoppin’ John is comforting, stick-to-your ribs, real kind of food. And even though it’s a favorite New Year’s Day dish, just one bite will have you wanting to dig in all year long!
What is Hoppin’ John?
Besides being deliciously savory comfort food, Hoppin’ John is a traditional southern black eyed pea recipe cooked with pork, peppers, onion, spices and either served over rice or with rice cooked in it. Usually served on New Year’s Day with greens, cornbread and sometimes ham, Hoppin’ John’s claim to fame is that it brings good luck all year to those who eat it on January 1. And while we don’t put much stock into the superstitions, we do have a deliciously fun time enjoying all the traditions.
But you don’t have to serve Hoppin’ John just on New Year’s Day! We enjoy it all year long. Spooning it up like a soup or stew or serving it alongside a crisp salad is a perfect way to enjoy homecooked vegetables anytime. Just don’t forget the splash of hot sauce to top it off!
What You Need To Make Hoppin’ John
- frozen or fresh black eyed peas
- thick cut bacon
- red & green bell peppers
- minced garlic
- chicken broth
- bay leaves
- dried thyme
- salt, pepper, cayenne
- cooked rice
- garnishes: green onions or parsley
Why doesn’t this recipe use ham hock?
Since Hoppin’ John is just about as old as it gets, there are all kinds of recipes and variations for it. Adding ham hock or a ham bone to peas and beans and other vegetables when cooking them is longstanding way to impart deep flavor. So why use bacon?
This recipe starts with cooking bacon in a dutch oven or stock pot and then sautéing all the vegetables in the bacon and bacon drippings. Wow! You want to talk about flavor! Afterwards, chicken broth, or stock, is added to drippings and sautéed veggies to create a deeply flavored base for cooking the peas. This rich base infuses layers of flavor into every Hoppin’ John ingredient from start to finish. Not to mention thick cut bacon is an easy ingredient that almost everyone is familiar with- where to get it and how to use it.
Tips for Making The Best Hoppin’ John
Southern vegetables don’t have to be “cooked down” to almost nothing to be good. As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t be. Everyone agrees a variety of color and texture make a dish better! To make sure your Hoppin’ John is full of flavor, color and texture, follow these simple steps!
- Don’t add all of the bell pepper at once. Hold back half of the red and half of the green bell pepper when sautéing your veggies in the bacon drippings. Add the halves you held back when there is only about 10-15 minutes left for the peas to cook. This will ensure that those peppers will still have lots of eye popping color and a bit of bite to them.
- Some recipes cook the rice in the peas. This, too, can create that “cooked down” texture. To keep your rice fluffy, cook your rice and Hoppin’ John separately and either serve the black eyed peas over the rice or fold the rice into the peas right before serving.
- We serve our Hoppin’ John peas over Easy Green Chile Rice for an extra punch of savory flavor!
Other Southern Favorites You’ll Love
- Ultimate Okra & Tomatoes Skillet with Smoked Sausage
- Slow Cooker Black Eyed Peas & Ham
- Louisiana Dirty Rice
- Southern Cornbread Pudding (Spoon Bread)
- Heirloom Tomato Pie
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Deep South Hoppin' John
- 6-8 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 3 celery sticks, diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 2-3 tsp minced garlic
- 16 oz frozen black eyed peas
- 32 oz chicken broth
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thymes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- finely chopped green onion tops, topping
- 3 C cooked rice (We use Easy Green Chile Rice.)
- Chop bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Cook in a dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat.
- When bacon is almost crisped, add 1/2 of the diced green bell pepper and 1/2 of the diced red bell pepper. Add all of the diced celery, onion and minced garlic. Cook together until bacon is crisped.
- Add chicken broth to bacon and vegetables, scraping any bacon drippings from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and add frozen peas. Return to a simmer. Add bay leaves, thyme, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes. Add remaining bell pepper. Cook for 10-15 more minutes. Taste. Add salt if needed. Peas should be tender. Extend cooking time if needed.
- Serve over cooked rice or fold rice in to the peas to make a one pot dish.