South Carolina Hoppin John

Submitted by Chef Donald Barickman
Magnolias Restaurant
Charleston, South Carolina

I don’t think that you can get any closer to the real thing for this Southern New Years good luck tradition. We use rice and the cow peas that are grown in Darlington County, South Carolina.

Serves 10 to 12 [Makes 3 quarts]

  • 2 cups Carolina Plantation dried cowpeas
  • 9 1/2 cups water
  • 2 ounces of Carolina Ham Trimmings, a smoked pork neck bone, or a ham hock
  • 1 1/2 cups Carolina Aromatic Rice
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Pour the peas on a baking sheet with raised sides. Pick over them to check for small pebbles and stems and remove them. Put the peas in a colander and rinse them well with cold water. Place in a stockpot and add 8 cups of the water. Skim off any floating peas. Add the pork, if desired. [I do not put salt in the water at the beginning of this process as it hardens the peas and lengthens the cooking time.]

Cook the peas over medium heat for 1 hour. Add the remaining 1 1/2-cups of water and bring back to a boil. Rinse the rice 2 or 3 times in cold water until the water is clear. Stir the rice into the peas. There must be a least 2 1/4 cups of liquid in the peas for the rice to cook. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Continue to cook for another 10 to 12 minutes over low heat without lifting the lid.

When most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked, fluff the peas and rice, and add the salt and white pepper. Add a little water if necessary. Serve immediately.