Kardea Brown’s Hoppin’ John Recipe

published Feb 7, 2023
Hoppin’ John Recipe

This dish dates back centuries in the Lowcountry. It was introduced by West African enslaved people in the coastal regions of the south. Slaves would make large pots of rice with beans to hold them over while they worked in the fields. As time progressed, the meal became a symbol of wealth on New Year’s Day.

Serves4 to 6

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Credit: Sully Sullivan

Hoppin’ John is another well-known dish that showcases why rice is an incredibly versatile grain. Hoppin’ John is a symbolic part of modern-day African American foodways. In fact, Hoppin’ John is commonly eaten as part of a New Year’s Day celebration throughout the South as a way of encouraging prosperity and good fortune in the future. The dish was a mainstay for enslaved West African people of the Lowcountry. Brown’s version of the dish includes field peas, smoked meat, and plenty of flavorful alliums like onions, garlic, and scallions.

Hoppin’ John Recipe

This dish dates back centuries in the Lowcountry. It was introduced by West African enslaved people in the coastal regions of the south. Slaves would make large pots of rice with beans to hold them over while they worked in the fields. As time progressed, the meal became a symbol of wealth on New Year’s Day.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    dried field peas, rinsed

  • 1 small piece

    smoked turkey neck or ham hock

  • Kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

  • 1

    medium onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1

    small green bell pepper, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 2 cups

    long-grain white rice

  • 2

    scallions, sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium heavy-bottomed saucepot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the field peas and cover with cold water by 1 inch (should be about 6 cups water). Add the smoked turkey and a few generous pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 2 hours, then turn off the heat. Do not drain.

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the onion and green pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook just until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the rice to the pot and cook, stirring, until toasted, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add 3 cups water and 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the peas. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over medium-low heat until the rice is tender and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and gently stir in the cooked peas, drained, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the sliced scallions before serving.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from THE WAY HOME by Kardea Brown. Copyright 2022. Amistad/HarperCollins