June 8, 2021
Try this Hoppin’ John recipe from the new cookbook, Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ.
THE tradition around here is to eat Hoppin’ John and collard greens on January 1 so that you’ll have money in the new year: The beans in Hoppin’ John represent coins and the collards represent greenbacks. As you know by now, collard greens are not my favorite green, so this was not a ritual I followed too closely. I love Hoppin’ John, but I guess during my good years, somebody must have been eating my collards for me. Either that or the cabbage that I love worked as a substitute.
Usually Hoppin’ John features black-eyed peas. That’s how we used to make it where I’m from. But it’s really a dish that started on the coast and on the islands off the coast of South Carolina among the Gullah people. There, they have historically made Hoppin’ John with red peas. Glenn Roberts, whose company Anson Mills specializes in growing traditional heirloom foods of the South, puts it this way: “Red peas are never served without rice on the Carolina Sea Islands, and red peas are the dominant legume in the culinary history of the Sea Islands.”
Red peas do have a black eye, but they are smaller, redder and sweeter than their more famous cousins. You should seek them out if you want your Hoppin’ John to be historically accurate. But you should also seek them out just because you like good eating. This is history that tastes good.
- Mix all of the ingredients and place them in an airtight container. Cover and store in a cool dry place until ready to use.
- In a small stockpot, warm the vinegar over medium-high heat. After about 5 minutes, when the vinegar reaches 150°F on an instant-read thermometer, just before it starts to simmer, add the lemon slices and continue to cook until the lemon peels begin to soften and wilt, about 10 minutes more.
Note: You need to start this dish the night before so the peas have time to soak. When ready to cook, drain well.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium Dutch oven or ovenproof soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the pork and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the soaked and drained peas, the hog seasoning and stock.
- Transfer to the oven and bake until the peas are tender and creamy, about 1 hour. Remove the pot from the oven, season with salt, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the rice: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. And the onion and cook until it becomes soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, 2 ½ cups water, and the salt and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover tightly with a lid or foil. Allow the rice to steam for 15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork.
- To serve, place about ½ cup rice in each serving bowl. Ladle 1 cup of hot peas over the rice. Top the Hoppin’ John with 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions. Serve with Rodney’s sauce and corn bread on the side.
Reprinted with permission from Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day is a Good Day by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie Copyright © 2021 by Rodney Scott’s BBQ, LLC, a South Carolina limited liability company. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Jerrelle Guy. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.