Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hoppin' John - a South Carolina Tradition

South Carolina has a New Year’s Day tradition that goes back well over 160 years.  The first recorded recipe for Hoppin’ John came in 1847 in The Carolina Housewife, and most epicurean historians credit the Gullah folks in the low country for the dish.  There are many legends of how the dish got its name, but one of the strongest is that the dish was sold in the streets of Charles Towne by a crippled black man named Hoppin’ John.

Although there are many variations to the recipe, the original was rather simple – Ham hock, black eyed peas, rice, onion and greens.  My recipe is one of the slight variations, but not far from the original.


1 pound bag black eyed peas, dried (rinse and soak for 6-8 hours prior)

2 small smoked ham hocks/ 1 large or ham bone with some meat still on it.

 (I also had some left over ham that I diced and added)

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 small bell pepper, finely chopped

2 stalks of celery finely chopped 

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 quart of chicken broth

3 cups of water
Fresh Kale, chopped fine

2 cups of rice

1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

In a large Dutch oven/pot heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic, onions, pepper, celery.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are softened.  Stir often. 

Add chicken broth, water, seasonings, and ham /ham hocks and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 30-45 minutes.  Stir periodically.

After 30-45 minutes, remove ham hocks and pick meat off bones and chop fine – return to pot. Add chopped kale and soaked peas after draining and rinsing.  Cook for another 20-30 minutes, still covered.  Stir periodically.

Now add the two cups of rice, stirring to mix well in the pot.  (Note- you may have to add a little water) Cook for another 20-25 minutes stirring regularly.  (add water as needed)  Today I did not have to add any, but each batch is different. 

Serve in bowls with and garnish with chopped green onion.

Happy New Year and Enjoy!


  1. Well darn. If I'd seen a recipe for Hoppin John as good as this yesterday, I'd have made it. I live in NC but haven't seen a recipe that was even half as good as what you've put together. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. What a comforting dish this is!
    Wishing you a very happy new year!

  3. I LOVE Hoppin' John and I don't see recipes for it often, excellent post!

  4. Gotta love those Hoppin' Johns! I moved out of the south 35 years ago, but still make them every New Years Day!! Yours look great! Happy New Year!


If you do not have an account use annonymous, but please leave your name. I love comments!