Hoppin’ John

Since I just got back from Atlanta and am also reading a book set in the South, I’ve got black-eyed peas on my mind.  I’m not sure that this dish sounds as delicious as it is, but please trust me when I say it is worth making.  It’s really hearty and yummy, and leftovers freeze well!  Traditionally, Hoppin’ John is made with ham hocks or bacon, but that’s where Southern-style and my style digress.  To infuse some of that deep, smoky flavor we would otherwise get from the meats, I like to cook the black eyed peas with a dried chipotle pepper or two, then season it with a little smoked salt at the end.  If you want some more spice, go ahead and add some cayenne or season your Hoppin’ John with hot sauce. 

Here in Boulder, dried New Mexico chipotles can be found at Whole Foods.  They keep forever and are nice with black or pinto beans, as well.  As for smoked salt, I know it’s available at Savory Spice Shop.  I’ve purchased it at natural grocery stores too, but availability seems to be spotty.  A trip to Savory Spice is always fun and smoked salt is great to have around for split pea soups, lentil soups, or even a Winter Tomato soup.

As with almost all beans and grains, please be sure to soak the black eyed peas and rice ahead of time.  I’m guessing many of you out there eat collard greens fairly rarely and this is a great place for them.  However, if you want to use a different type of green, go right ahead.  If it’s a wilty one like spinach or chard, I suggest adding them about 10 minutes before the Hoppin’ John is finished.  On my heat scale, one chipotle is mild, two medium, and three is hot.  I bet some of you out there could go for four, but I stick with the mild-medium version…have fun with it.       

  • 2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 shallots, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 1/2 cups black eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup brown rice, soaked overnight
  • 8 cups water, or more as necessary
  • 1 strip kombu
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Smoked salt, to taste
  • Herbamare, to taste
  • additional flavor enhancers, optional, such as hot sauce, a dash of apple cider vinegar and just a pinch of cayenne

Heat a soup pot to medium, then saute onions in olive oil until soft and lightly browned.  Add shallots and continue to cook until they begin to brown.  Add celery and collard greens and cook 4-5 more minutes.  Add black eyed peas, rice, water, chipotle, kombu, and bay leaves, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about an hour or more, or until rice is cooked and the beans are soft.  Season with 1 teaspoon smoked salt, then additional sea salt or Herbamare to taste.  Add optional ingredients as desired.  Stir in the kombu until it dissolves, then remove the chipotles  and bay leaves before serving.  You can also do this in the pressure cooker – cook at high pressure for about 20 minutes, or in the slow cooker (aka crockpot) overnight.  We like it with cornbread…Enjoy!

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