This Southern staple serves up a generous helping of comfort and tradition. We use thick-cut bacon to get the perfect amount of smokiness, as opposed to a ham hock. A ham hock can, at times, overpower the dish. Traditionally, Hoppin’ John is a one-pot recipe, but that often produces soupy results. Instead, cook the black-eyed peas with aromatics and broth until tender; then strain and reserve the liquid for later. Once the rice is done, gently stir it into the pea mixture with the liquid. This method does require washing an extra pan, but we think you’ll agree that it’s worth it. There are three things you do want to keep traditional about your hoppin’ John though: the pork, the peas, and the rice.
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
8 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
4 cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups uncooked Carolina Gold rice
Fresh scallions, sliced
How to Make It
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until starting to crisp, about 10 minutes. Add celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, black pepper, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Add broth and black-eyed peas and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until peas are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain pea mixture, reserving cooking liquid. Return pea mixture and 1 cup of the cooking liquid to Dutch oven. Cover to keep warm; set aside.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add rice and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of the reserved cooking liquid and remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until rice is tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, and gently stir into pea mixture in Dutch oven. Stir in remaining cooking liquid, 1⁄4 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Sprinkle servings with sliced fresh scallions.