Hoppin’ John, also known as Carolina Peas and Rice, is part of a beloved Southern tradition of eating black eyed peas with rice, collard greens and cornbread on New Years Day. It’s symbolic of wealth, health and prosperity for the new year. This Slow Cooked Hoppin’ John makes preparation easy and allows the cook to relax and make the most of the day. It’s a mouthwatering crockpot filled with down home comfort consisting of black eyed peas cooked with diced onion, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, ham hock or ham and flavorful seasonings. It’s not only a tasty meal to enjoy on New Years Day but, any day of the year.
There are many theories as to how Hoppin’ John got it’s name though none of which are confirmed or written in stone. It’s a humble but, delicious dish, believed to have been introduced to Southern tables using field peas by African Americans working the plantations in the South. There’s some evidence that it has some Caribbean influence, as well. Very popular in the Carolina’s and beyond it’s primarily a dish of field peas cooked with pork, ham hock, or spicy sausage that’s served with rice.
I’ve seen this dish presented by cooks in a few different ways. Some prepare the black eyed peas and then add rice to the same pot. Some cooks will add cooked collards to the black eyed peas and rice and mix it all together. Others serve Hoppin’ John ladled over rice with collard greens and cornbread on the side. There’s often a bottle of hot sauce nearby for those who like to sprinkle a little on top. I like to serve it with the rice and collard greens on the side and allow those eating it to decide if they want to mix it altogether or eat separately. To me, it doesn’t matter how you serve Hoppin’ John, just savor every scrumptious bite of this unforgettable meal.
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Items used in the preparation of this recipe:
Slow Cooked Hoppin' John
- 1 lb dry black eyed peas rinsed and picked over
- 1 12-oz ham hock or ham bone with meat
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 small green bell pepper OR poblano pepper seeded and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2-1 tsp seasoned salt adjust more or less to your taste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Or plain diced tomatoes)
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- Cooked rice for serving
- Cooked Collard Greens optional (See Cook's note)
- Hot sauce optional
- Pour peas into bottom of slow cooker insert. Center the ham hock in the peas.
- Add the onion, pepper, bay leaves, thyme. red pepper flakes,1/2 tsp seasoned salt, and garlic.
- Pour chicken broth over all. Place the lid on securely. Cook on high for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, remove ham hock and pull meat from bone. Discard bone.
- Return meat to the slow cooker with tomatoes and lemon pepper. Taste and adjust salt to your taste, if needed. Mix well.
- Cover and cook for an additional 1-2 hours or until the peas are tender.
- Serve with rice, collard greens and cornbread with hot sauce, if desired.
The ham adds a great deal of seasoning and salt to the entire dish. If desired, you may wait to add salt after the Hoppin' John has cooked for the initial 3 hours, then adjust to your taste.
To add rice and collards to the pot: After cooking the Hoppin' John, add 2 cups cooked long grain rice and 1 (16-oz) package frozen chopped collard greens cooked per the package directions. Mix both in at the end of cooking just before serving. Season only lightly with salt when preparing both.