Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John

Rice & beans

The Hang Fire Cookbook

We first had this tasty little carb-rich dish at a ‘mom and pop’ gas station diner on our way back from Asheville, NC to Nashville, TN. There wasn’t a huge amount to be had on the menu, so we asked for something ‘traditional’. We ended up with two bowls of hoppin’ John: a hearty blend of pig trotters, rice and black-eyed peas. There are a few theories about how this dish got its name but the one that makes us smile the most is this: ‘It was the custom for children to gather in the dining room as the dish was brought forth, and hop around the table before sitting down to eat.’ In the absence of trotters, we’ve made it with ham hocks and it’s equally delicious.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
3 fresh bay leaves
1 litre chicken stock
425g tin black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 x 400-500g smoked bone-in ham hock, (see recipe note)
200g long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
large bunch spring onions, chopped


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chilli flakes and bay leaves. Cook over medium heat, for 8–10 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
  2. Add the chicken stock, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Add the peas, return to the boil and immediately turn the heat down low. Add your ham hock and simmer for 1½ hours until the ham is tender. After this time, remove and discard the bay leaves and use tongs to take out the ham hock. Using a fork, pull the meat from the bone, discard any fat and skin, then return the meat to the pan.
  3. Next, stir in the rice and bring back up to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with more pepper and the chopped spring onions.

Note on Smokin’ Hog hock

  • For already cured ham hocks, soak them overnight in the fridge in clean water with a peeled potato in the water, too. The potato will absorb some of the salt. Smoking ham hocks is relatively straightforward. It makes sense to pop a few hocks in while you’re smoking other meats. We usually set our grill up for indirect heat at 108°C and use a bit of our Almost All-purpose Rub to get a good bark. Ham hocks that are 300–400g will take 7–8 hours to reach 90°C.

    Look for hocks with plenty of meat on them. If you can’t find ham hocks, you can substitute cubes of smoked ham, bacon or leftover pulled pork. Simply fry the bacon off first, and add any of these substitutions right before you add the rice.
Deep South
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