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Hoppin John Recipe

Hoppin’ John, it ain’t just for New Years any more.  This is a quick and easy recipe that serves as a side dish, or can also be a great main dish just as well.  What a great way to use a few leftover Black Eye Peas to make another meal entirely.

If you’ve ever tried Hoppin John, it may have only been on New Years Day.  But why?  It’s just too good to not prepare more often.  Let’s say you’ve got a serving or two of leftover Black Eye Peas in the refrigerator.  It’s not enough to feed several people so you’ve got to get a little more creative.  On the other hand, you could have a little cooked rice left over and don’t want to just throw it out.  This recipe will work great either way you decide to take it.  More rice…more peas….the choice is yours.

There are various ideas on where the name Hoppin John comes from for this dish.  Its found throughout the South and it’s thought that it was first introduced to America by African slaves.  It may be a popular Southern dish around New Years Day, but you don’t find a lot of Southern restaurants that still carry it on their menu’s beyond that.  Too bad. It’s a filling meal that could be prepared rather inexpensively, something restaurants are usually trying to achieve.  But, there are a select few places around that still serve it all year long.  Locally, or at least within driving range, I found it on the menu at Crook’s Corner over in Chapel Hill and at their sister place Crooks Atrium Cafe.  I’ve tried it at the Cafe and really enjoyed it.  They served it up with a little tomato, scallions and cheddar cheese on top.  Delicious.

If you’ve never tried it, give this simple recipe a go sometime.  I really think you’ll enjoy it.  Then, share your comments with me in the Comment Section at the bottom.  I’d love to know if it was served at your house, or perhaps how you might make it differently.

I’ve listed this as a side dish, but it can certainly serve as a main dish also.  Between using the rice and peas, its a great way to stretch out the family budget and fill everyone up at the same time.  So, if you’re ready to give it a try…..Let’s Get Cooking!

Ingredients needed to prepare our Hoppin John Recipe.

Hoppin’ John Recipe:  You’ll need these ingredients to prepare our version of Hoppin’ John.  You’ll need some already cooked Black Eye Peas, so its a great way to use up any leftovers.  We’re using Hog Jowl for seasoning, but you could also use Bacon or Ham Hock.

Start with the hog jowl.

We’ll start with the Hog Jowl.  Depending on where you are in this world, you may not have heard of Hog Jowl, and you may not be able to find it at your local grocer.  As the name implies, Hog Jowl comes from the “cheek” of a pig.  It’s a bit tougher than bacon but has a very similar taste.  It’s normally smoked and cured to preserve it longer, and it can be frozen if needed, just like most any other cut of pork.  Folks around the South will mostly use it for seasoning their peas and beans  just as they would bacon, but it’s also delicious cut up in thick strips and fried.  You’ll see.

Slice the hog jowl.

Here, I’ve sliced off three fairly thick slices of the jowl.  It looks a lot like thick sliced bacon doesn’t it?  You want need much more than 1/4th of a pound for this recipe.  Hog Jowl will either come already sliced or you might find it just as one solid section in a package.  Since it’s normally smoked and cured already, it will have a saltier taste so additional salt may not be needed.  I don’t think it’s smoked and cured as much however these days, as it was years back.  In the older days, it would have hung in a “smoke house” to cure and preserve it.  We’ll try to cover that in another post.

Place the sliced jowl in a skillet.

Place the slices in a skillet over medium heat.  You don’t want to cook it too fast as it splatters like bacon.

The fried hog jowl.

Fry it up just as you would some thick sliced bacon.  When it’s done to your satisfaction, remove it from the pan and place it on a couple of layers of paper towels to drain.  We’ll let it cool down a bit as we prepare the rest of the recipe.

Add some butter to the pan.

Pour off most of the grease from the cooked Hog Jowl but not all.  Be sure to leave those brown parts because they are loaded with flavor.  Then, add your butter to the pan.

Add the diced bell pepper.

Toss in the diced bell peppers.

Add the onions.

Add the onions.  What is it about bacon, butter, and onions that just make the kitchen smell so great?

Let it all cook down a bit.

Let it all cook down a bit over medium heat or just a little lower.  Can you smell it yet?

Stir it around so onions don't burn.

Stir it around as it cooks.  You want the onions to cook down until they are translucent and just slightly browned around the edges.  Don’t over cook them or burn them.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the black eye peas in a saucepan.

Place the black eye peas in a medium sized saucepan.  Start them off on medium heat and warm them up.

Add the chicken broth.

Pour in the can of chicken broth and raise the heat up to about medium-high.

Bring up to a low boil.

Bring it up to a low boil, raising the heat a little if needed.

Add the uncooked rice.

Add the uncooked rice once it reaches that low boil.  Of course, you could also create this recipe with cooked rice if you already have that.  That’s the beauty of cooking….you can improvise as you go…with what you already have.

Bring it back up to a boil once again.

Stir the rice in and let it all come back up to a boil once again.

Cover the pot and reduce to a low simmer.

When it starts to boil, cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and REDUCE the heat to a low simmer.  Let it cook for about 15 minutes and resist the urge to lift the lid during this time.  Follow the cooking times listed on your box or package of rice for best results.

Meanwhile, chop up the hog jowl.

While the rice is cooking with the peas, go ahead and chop up the slices of cooked Hog Jowl.

Remove the rice and peas from heat and set aside.

After about 15 minutes, remove the saucepan with the rice and peas and set it aside on a cloth, trivet or cool burner.

Let it rest for about 5 minutes, then lift the lid to release any steam.

After it rests for about five minutes, lift the lid to release any steam, then close the lid for about 5 more minutes.

Fluff the rice up while it's still in the pot.

Use a fork and gently fluff the cooked rice up a bit.  This will help separate the grains of rice so they don’t stick together.

Add the chopped hog jowl.

Add the cooked Hog Jowl to the pot.

Add the cooked peppers and onions.

Then, add the cooked Bell Peppers and Onions.  Stir it together gently.

Place it in your serving bowl.

Now, place it in your serving bowl.  This is a great budget stretcher meal using ingredients you’ve probably already got on hand.  You could add more peas if you like, whatever makes you happiest.  You’ll find lots of variations on Hoppin’ John across the internet.  Some include tomato, some include sausage, the variety makes it just that much better.  As for me…….

Serve and Enjoy!

I’ll be happy with just a big old spoonful or two (or three) on my plate, along side a piece of cornbread.


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