Try this Buxton Hall Hoppin' John recipe from a James Beard-nominated Southern chef

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen
Hoppin' John at Buxton Hall in Asheville, NC.

Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, North Carolina, serves a variation of this Hoppin' John recipe around New Year's Eve. 

Chef and partner Elliott Moss used to eat many of the ingredients in the classic Southern dish growing up, though his family never expressly called it Hoppin' John. 

"That was more of a thing that I heard later in life," Moss said. "But we always had black-eyed peas and my mom cooked rice every day until I moved out."

New Year's Day meant many, many dishes of good luck food, black-eyed peas being one of them. Those peas were simmered slow until super starchy, studded with pork and served with collard greens.

"I remember rutabagas being in the mix and cornbread," Moss said. "She always had a story for all of the stuff, and my aunt and grandma always had fried chicken and mac and cheese in addition to all this other stuff. There was turkey, barbecue and a whole feast of stuff, like a buffet."

Moss cooks his collards a traditionally Southern way — which is to say he cooks the heck out of them. "They just get nice and tender," he said. "The vinegar in there keeps them from getting too mushy."

The potlikker gets concentrated and syrupy as the brown sugar-packed broth reduces. Texas Pete adds a little acid and heat to balance out the sweetness. 

For the rice that makes this dish Hoppin' John, Buxton Hall cooks use garden-variety California long-grain. And while black-eyed peas are great, Moss also likes Sea Island, Lady peas or any other heirloom field peas. 

But for the most nostalgic flavor, black-eyed peas are king. 

"These flavors are a thing I remembered as a child," he said. "As I taste it, I think this is what was in it. Most of my food is from just memory."

More about Buxton Hall Barbecue here.  

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

8 ounces smoked bacon, chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 head of garlic, cloves separated, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups pork or chicken stock

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Texas Pete)

2 medium bunches collards, stems trimmed, leaves chopped

2 cups frozen black-eyed peas

1 1/2 cups rice

Instructions

Cook oil and bacon in the same pot over medium-low, stirring often, until bacon is browned around the edges, 5-8 minutes.

Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes.

Stir in red pepper flakes and black pepper, then add stock, vinegar, brown sugar and hot sauce. Mix in collard greens and reduce heat to low. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are very tender but still have some chew, 60-70 minutes.

Uncover pot, add black-eyed peas and simmer until the peas are very tender and liquid is slightly reduced, 15–20 minutes. Season with salt. 

While black-eyed peas are cooking, start rice in a separate pot according to package instructions.