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Hoppin' John

Old-Fashioned Hoppin' John

Serves: 4 as an entree or 8 as a side

Hands On Time: 

Total Time: 


4 cups water, plus more as needed
1 cup dried field peas, such as Sea Island Red peas or black-eyed peas
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 onion, chopped
1 cup Carolina Gold rice, or other flavorful long-grain rice


In a large saucepan, combine the water, peas and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the beans are tender, 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the freshness of the peas. Add additional water to the pot, as needed. Remove from the heat and let the peas cool in their cooking liquid. Strain the peas, reserving both the peas and their cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered, but the bacon has not yet browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Let the rice drain until mostly dry.

In a rice cooker or top pot of a double boiler, combine the peas, bacon-onion mixture and rinsed rice. Add 1 1/2 cups of the pea cooking liquid.

If using a rice cooker, follow the manufacturer's directions to cook the rice. Let the Hoppin' John rest for 10 minutes after the timer dings before serving.

If using a double boiler, fill the bottom pot of the double boiler with an inch of water. Place the bottom pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cover the top pot tightly, adding a layer of aluminum foil if necessary, and place over the simmering water. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring gently every 10 to 15 minutes, until the rice is tender, 1 to 2 hours. Let the Hoppin' John rest for 10 minutes off the heat before serving.

Photo: Kate Williams

About the recipe

The quality of your ingredients will really make a difference in this dish. Choose heirloom peas and rice, if possible, and make sure to purchase high-quality, flavorful bacon. Look for a bacon brand that does not include water in the ingredients list for best results.

This recipe first appeared in Saving Southern Recipes.

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