Hoppin' John - A Southern New Year's Day Tradition

This dish is traditionally served on New Year’s Day. The black eyed beans are thought to bring luck in the New Year. It is, however, popular year round…. and I would think the good luck will continue if you serve it after New Year’s day.

I find in interesting the differences in foods and traditions that different regional areas have. Many are influenced by the ethnic background of those in the area.

Hoppin’ John is no exception. A traditional Southern dish, Hoppin’ John has it’s roots in West Africa. It’s a version of beans and rice, typically made with black eyed peas, onions, peppers and either bacon or ham hocks, or smoked ham is also sometimes used. Ham hocks are usually used in Southern versions.

I made the pictured dish with ham hocks, being in the south, I wanted to stick to the southern version… I must tell you though… I prefer using smoked bacon or smoked ham. Ham hocks tend to be salty and although fairly inexpensive, the amount of usable meat on the bone is minimal and is more labor intensive than simply using smoked bacon and smoked ham makes it meatier. The choice is yours as to which one you use.


There is some leeway with ingredients here…. as I mentioned…

You can choose between ham hocks, smoked ham or bacon.

Onions and celery are a must…. Chopped green and red bell peppers are not in all recipes .. although I highly recommend them, they add so much flavor.

And of course black eyed peas.

Some cooks use water instead of chicken broth… again.. I highly recommend the broth… it adds flavor.

Seasoning varies from recipe to recipe… I use my Cajun Seasoning.. for the recipe .. click the link… or you can use a commercially made Cajun Seasoning.

You can use dried beans, soaked overnight in water, then rinsed… or canned… which are drained and rinsed… I wrote the recipe to use canned… saves a bit of time and works just as well.

I used 1 full (32 oz.) container of chicken broth… but you may need a little more.. depending on how long you boil the dish and how hard it simmers… your broth may evaporate and you may need to add a little additional broth… so be prepared with more on hand than the 32 oz. container.

This recipe will make 4-6 servings

The dish is easy to make … doesn’t take long to put together and cook and is delicious to boot!


Recipe: Hoppin’ John

All you need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large or several small ham hocks or 5 strips smoked bacon (chopped)
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 (32 oz.) container chicken broth * you may need a little additional broth (SeeTIPS)
2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
2 green onions (optional garnish)
Cooked rice

All you need to do:

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot.

Add the ham hocks or bacon or smoked ham, whichever you have decided to use.

Sear the meat for about a minute… if using bacon, stir a few times and when it has started to render fat and start to curl…

Then add the chopped peppers, celery, onions and garlic. Stir well.

Add the beans and broth.

Add the bay leaf and Cajun Seasoning and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and continue to simmer for about 1 ½ hours or until the peas are tender.

Remove the bay leaf.

If using ham hocks or smoked ham… remove the meat and allow to cool until you can handle it… remove the meat from the bone and chop. Add the meat back into the pot.

Serve over hot rice and garnish with chopped green onions (optional).

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