Hoppin’ John Recipe: Southern-Style Black-Eyed Peas

This Hoppin’ John recipe has been in my family forever. I’d like to take the credit for it, but I can’t if I’m being honest. All I can do is play my part by carrying on the tradition of serving these Hoppin’ John black-eyed peas around New Year’s.

Bringing in the New Year with a big bowl of Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas) at my grandfather’s house is a New Year’s tradition in our family.

Growing up in the South, we have such an abundance of black-eyed peas, crowder peas, cow peas, and butter beans from our gardens that we can freeze them for an entire year’s use. It is a staple in the Southern home and pairs well with fish and venison. It’s also suitable as a main dish, by itself, or served over rice.

Some Southern Fried Cornbread makes a nice accompaniment.

Overhead Fried Cornbread on Parchment, Some stacked and some laying on a board.

What is Traditional New Year’s Food?

The traditional menu for New Year’s Day is pork, greens, black-eyed peas (whether in gumbo, salad, or Hoppin John), and cornbread. 

Why Do You Eat Black-Eyed Peas for New Year’s?

Black-eyed peas represent prosperity. Legend has it that the more you eat, the more prosperous your year will be. They are one of my favorite traditions, but not just for their meaning! Their creamy texture makes them the perfect comfort food with a big piece of fried cornbread sopping up the juices.

I always serve my black-eyed peas in the form of Hoppin’ John, but some of my relatives like to serve Black-eyed Pea Salad, or even Gumbo

What Does Cornbread Mean for New Year’s?

Cornbread represents gold!! I knew we always ate it on New Year’s Day, but I had no idea why. I would have eaten a ton more had I known! 

Why Do You Eat Collards for New Year’s?

That question is a pretty straight forward one to answer. Collards and greens are, well, green representing money! They more you eat, the more money you are supposed to make during the new year. 

What Does Pork Represent in the New Year’s Meal?

Pork represents forward progress. I had to find out why a pig would represent forward progress. It is interesting indeed. It’s because pigs move around with their snouts in forward motions as they root for food. My favorite pork to serve are either my Skillet Pork Chops or Spinach and Mozzarella Stuffed Pork Chops

What? Cooking Network TV Blog?

OK. I find this topic so exciting that I was interviewed about it by Cooking Network TV Blog! Here’s the take-away from the interview: 


Stacy Harris, author of the book Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook (2016), was born and raised in Montgomery, Ala., where for as long as she can remember, her grandfather grew black-eyed peas and her grandmother cooked them.

“Every New Year’s holiday, my family would go to my grandfather’s house and have a meal consisting of black-eyed peas, collards and fried cornbread. We would all sit around the table talking about how we were going to spend the money that the new year was going to bring depending on how many black-eyed peas that we consumed, and, boy, did we consume our share,” she recalls fondly.

She doesn’t save the peas just for the new year, though. “We grow them from heirloom seeds in the summer, blanch them and freeze them so that we have plenty for the entire year,” she says. She uses them as a side for venison, beef, quail and fish, and she says they are great made into black-eyed pea patties instead of beef patties for a vegetarian burger.


More than anything, I hope I got you as excited as I am about starting the new year right…and with the best, most traditional meal for the occasion. 

May the New Year bring you many blessings!

By the way, you can find this recipe in my book!! I think you will love the fresh Southern recipes.

Making Hoppin’ John—Southern Style Black-Eyed Peas

Here are a few tips for making Hoppin John.

1. Soak the peas in water for 24 to 48 hours. Believe it or not, there’s a reason for soaking them besides to make them cook faster. You can find all the reasons why in my post To Soak or Not to Soak. 

2. Save all your ham hocks. They make the best flavoring for Hoppin John. Black-eyed peas are flavor magnets, and ham hocks are the perfect marriage for them. Ham hocks are easy to freeze. Remove most of the meat from the ham and wrap the hock in plastic wrap then in tin foil for up to 6 months.

3. Do not salt over-salt. It seems that you would need quite a lot of salt to flavor the peas, but with the ham hock already having some salt, you need very little extra. It is super easy to over-salt.

Sautè onions, celery, and garlic before adding the peas and stock.
Sauté onions, celery, and garlic before adding the peas and stock.

4. Saute onions, celery, and garlic before adding the peas and the stock. 

Pour the peas and stock into the pot and simmer for about an hour only to await the most flavorful peas you have ever had!
Pour the peas and stock into the pot and simmer for about an hour only to await the most flavorful peas you have ever had!

5. Pour the peas and stock into the pot and simmer until the peas are just done. Don’t overcook, or they will get mushy. They are best served the day they are cooked. 

Hoppin’ John—Southern Style Black-Eyed Peas

Bringing in the New Year with a big bowl of Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas) is a New Year's tradition in our family.
5 from 2 votes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 pound bacon or ham hock cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons bacon drippings
  • 1 vidalia onion chopped
  • 5 stalks celery chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups (16 oz) heirloom fresh black-eyed peas
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock add more water if needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups steamed white rice
  • scallions for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Soak black-eyed peas in cold water for 24-36 hours. Occasionally remove the scum that rises to the top of the water. Rinse halfway through the 24 hours, add more water to the pot, and repeat. Drain peas. (If you don’t have time to soak your peas, place them in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat once it reaches a boil and let the peas stand for 1 hour. Drain and use recipe.)
  • If you’re using bacon, place bacon in a large pot over medium heat until bacon is crisp. Remove all but about 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings, but leave the bacon in the pan. If you are using a ham hock, heat bacon drippings in a pot. Add celery and 1 cup of onions to the pan/pot and sauté until soft (about 4 minutes). Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  • Place black-eyed peas, chicken stock, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper into the pan. If you are using a ham hock, place it in the pot with the vegetables. Bring to a boil, and then lower to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until peas are creamy and tender. Stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water.
  • Meanwhile, cook the rice.
  • Once the peas are done, remove the ham hock and pull any meat off the bone and place the meat into the collards if you’re serving with collards (which I highly suggest). Adjust seasonings and top with scallions. Serve over rice.
Keyword black eyed peas,, holiday recipes, Hoppin’ John, New Year’s, stacey lyn, stacey lynn, stacy lyn, stacy lynn
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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe thank you for sharing so many with us!

    1. Sandra, thank you for being here!! You make what I do so much fun! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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