Skip to Content

"Jack of Spades" Southern Black-eyed Peas and Rice aka Hoppin John

Sharing is caring!

Hoppin John recipe featuring black-eyed peas slowly simmered in a rich broth to a partial creamy texture then combined perfectly with cooked fluffy rice.

white bowl of black eyed peas and rice

MOOD MUSIC

My grandfather was a big fan of the actor Bernie Casey. I think Pops was impressed with his activism and intelligence. He had roles in several iconic films including “Cornbread, Earl, and Me”, “Cleopatra Jones”, “Revenge of the Nerds”, “Never Say Goodbye” and “Brothers” but most remember him as John Slade in “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” where he had that great line – “You two big motherfuckers in here cookin’ red beans and grits – you call that business?”

I didn’t have any red beans or grits on hand, but I did have black-eyed peas and rice. The day my grandfather died I watched "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" all day so the main soundtrack song, "Jack of Spade" is always significant for me.

What is Hoppin John?

Hoppin John is a bowl of humble and comforting rice and peas dish famous throughout the South. It’s mostly tied to South Carolina where its called Carolina Peas and Rice. The peas, introduced to America by Africans via the slave trade, are simmered with smoked and sometimes spicy meats then served with rice. This is the basis, but like most food-related things there are several versions of the dish.

Variations include types of meats used (pork ham hocks, spicy sausage, smoked turkey necks, etc.) or one or two pots used. One-pot involves cooking the rice and peas in the same pot. This hoppin John recipe as a two-pot version. Admittedly the rice absorbing all that delicious broth is killer good, but I chose to keep them separate so that I could use the black-eyed peas in different leftover meals. The addition of rice limits my options.

Hoppin John Ingredients

The ingredient list is for your standard black-eyed peas and rice. Perhaps the main variation is the use of turkey wings which provide smokiness, flavor depth, and richness.

ingredients for hoppin john recipe laid out

How to Make This Hoppin John Recipe

Should I Use Canned, Fresh, or Dried Peas?

I would skip canned peas, but feel free to use either fresh or dried ones. This recipe calls for dried, but if you choose to use fresh just be mindful you will not need to soak the peas and your cooking time will be much shorter.

Step 1: Soak and Drain the Peas

Since we’re using dried peas, you’ll need to soak them before cooking. If you prefer to skip overnight soaking, you can use the quick soak method which is simply bringing a pot of beans in cold water to a boil then simmering for a minute. Afterward you remove from heat and let soak for an hour. After soaking drain the peas fully reserving about two cups of the liquid for later use.

boiling blackeyed peas in a pot
guy draining peas

Step 2: Saute the turkey and vegetables

Sauteing the turkey necks is optional, but it’s my preference. This releases some of that great flavor as well as renders fat for sautéing the vegetables

turkey necks browning in pan

Step 3: Add Seasonings

I’m the 'cook to taste' type so I tend to season as I go. I actually pre-mix my spices ahead of cooking and store in a ramekin or small bowl so that I can access while cooking and sprinkling pinches here and there as I go. I especially like to season my vegetables during the sauce step. I find that seasoning at different levels adds depth.

white bowl of spice mix

Step 4: Add Remaining Ingredients To Pot

Add the peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and reserved liquid. I add a bit more seasoning here and mix well. Bring to a boil then simmer for about two hours. I like my peas creamy but not too soft. Texture is a preference thing. Start checking for texture and consistency after an hour until they meet your preference.

adding blackeyed peas to a pot
adding liquid to a pot

Step 5: Prepare The Rice

Cook the rice according to package directions and serve with the peas. For convenience, you can buy Ready Rice microwavable packets that are microwavable and ready in 90 seconds.

pot of blackeyed peas with smoked turkey necks

Serving Suggestions

New Year's in a Southern home ain't New Year's without some collard greens such as these Southern-style, curried collards, or smoked brisket collards. Round out the menu with some good ole fashioned hot water cornbread.

Key Cooking Tips For Black-Eyed Peas

  • If using dried black-eyed peas, put them in a large pot and cover with about 4 inches of water. Soak the peas overnight, then drain the water and rinse. If you're pressed for time, boil the peas for 2-3 minutes, remove the pot from heat and let soak for an hour.
  • When sauteing the vegetables, add the spices and cook until the entire mixture is coated with the spices, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the prepared peas to the pot and simmer until the peas are very soft, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  • For more flavor reserve 1-2 cups of the soaking liquid and add back to broth when cooking.
  • If you prefer to make this a true one-pot dish add a bit more stock or water for the rice to cook fully
  • Taste for seasonings, and add more if desired. Discard the bay leaves and transfer the black-eyed peas to a serving bowl. Garnish with green onions. Serve with rice or cauliflower rice for lower carb version.

Can This Be Made Vegan?

Since my daughter is vegan and wife a pescatarian, I also prepare a vegan Hoppin John recipe. I make a homemade vegetable stock that uses dried Mexican chili peppers for depth and smokiness in place of the smoked turkey necks. To lower the carbs, I also serve the peas with cauliflower rice. I also added carrots in place of the sausage.

Blackeyed Peas and Rice in a bowl

For more recipes featuring black-eyed peas you might like: 

If you make this delicious Hoppin John's recipe or any other from the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.

white bowl of black eyed peas and rice

Southern Black-eyed Peas and Rice aka Hoppin John

A classic black eyed peas and rice dish popular down South as a New Year’s Day staple. Rich and smoky, this fiber rich Hoppin John recipe is super comforting.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: southern
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 246kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • pound  dried black-eyed peas fresh can be substituted
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large smoked turkey wings diced
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 bell pepper yellow, orange, red, or green, diced
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
  • ½ tablespoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • cups  chicken stock
  • bay leaves
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs

Instructions

  • If using dried black-eyed peas, put them in a large pot and cover with about 4 inches of water. Soak the peas overnight, then drain the water (reserve 2 cups of the liquid for later) and rinse. If you're pressed for time, boil the peas for 2-3 minutes, remove pot from heat and let soak for an hour.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the smoked turkey and sauce for 2 minutes per side. Remove the wings and set aside.
  • Add onion, peppers, celery and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch or two of the seasoning to the vegetables as you saute.
  • Add the spices and cook until the entire mixture is coated with the spices, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the stock and reserved water, and drop in the bay leaves. Add the turkey wings back to the pot along with more seasoning and the fresh thyme sprigs.
  • Add the peas to the pot and simmer until the peas are very soft, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  • Taste for seasonings, and add more if desired. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, then transfer the black-eyed peas to a serving bowl. Serve with rice.

Notes

  • If using dried black-eyed peas, put them in a large pot and cover with about 4 inches of water. Soak the peas overnight, then drain the water and rinse. If you're pressed for time, boil the peas for 2-3 minutes, remove the pot from heat and let soak for an hour.
  • When sauteing the vegetables, add the spices and cook until the entire mixture is coated with the spices, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the prepared peas to the pot and simmer until the peas are very soft, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  • For more flavor reserve 1-2 cups of the soaking liquid and add back to broth when cooking.
  • If you prefer to make this a true one-pot dish add a bit more stock or water for the rice to cook fully

Nutrition

Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 719mg | Potassium: 636mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 668IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 4mg
Subscribe To My YouTube ChannelSubscribe To My YouTube Channel for full length recipe videos. Click the bell icon to be notified when I post new videos.
My YouTube Channel
Tried this Recipe? Tag it Today!Mention @foodfidelity or tag #foodfidelity!

Sharing is caring!

Recipe Rating