Hoppin John

Happy New Year!   Every year growing up, my mother would always fix black eyed peas for good luck. There have only been a few years where I haven’t had them….one such occasion was in college when I was broke down in Texas while on my way to the Orange Bowl. I settled for a bean burrito….I figured beans of any type would work. I think my car got stolen that year. So moral of the story….eat your black eyed peas people!

So, in keeping with that tradition, I make Hoppin John, which is a fabulous spicy black eyed pea and ham dish served over rice. My other tradition is to stay home and in my pajamas. So far, it has been a successful start to the new year.

Hoppin John (serves 6)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, small diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, dried (soak overnight in 6 to 8 cups of water)
  • 1  smoked ham hock (plus extra leftover ham if you were lucky to wrangle some from your family from Christmas ham or other dinner)
  • 1 quart of low sodium chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt


  1. In a large Dutch oven or kettle, heat oil and add the ham hock and sear on all sides. Ad the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 4 minutes. Add the soaked black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 40 minutes to an hour. If you don’t soak the beans overnight, you can add unsoaked beans to the pot but will need to cook for 2 to 3 hours.  Peas will be creamy and tender. If liquid evaporates, add more water or stock.
  3. Remove the ham hock bone and cut off the meat. I usually add leftover ham from the holidays that I freeze.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  5. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash some of the peas against the side of the pot until the stewed peas have some body (slightly thick). Add the cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. I like to top this with tabasco and green onions. Serve over brown rice.
  6. For Rice: Add 2 1/2 cups of water and salt to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of long grain brown rice, cover, and lower heat to low and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

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