Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hoppin' John and Southern Raised Biscuits

Due to the fact that beans comprise a large part of our stored foods, I am always on the lookout for a good bean recipe.  One of our all time favorite beans are Black-eyed Peas, also known as "Cow Peas".  They are almost a cross between a pea and a bean in that they are the size of a kidney bean, but they don't require soaking before cooking, which makes them perfect when you want a "bean" dish but are in a hurry.

I recently came across a recipe starring black-eyed peas, that could easily be converted into a "stored foods" recipe so I thought I would give it a try.  We love Hoppin' John so much that it has become an almost weekly staple in our household.  When reading the recipe, keep in mind that you can substitute canned bacon or ham for the fresh bacon that the recipe calls for.  Celery is optional and canned or dehydrated onions and peppers work as well, if not better, than their fresh counterpart.  I, of course, changed the recipe to suit our tastes, and the recipe that follows reflects our changes.

Hoppin' John
1/3 pound bacon, or 1 ham hock plus 2 Tbsp. oil (use canned bacon, ham or sausage)
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced (canned or dehydrated)
1 small green pepper, diced (canned or dehydrated - I like to use red pepper also)
2 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic powder)
1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas (about 2 cups)
1 bay leaf (I use sometimes)
2 teaspoons dried thyme (I never use this)
1 heaping teaspoon Cajun seasoning (I use about 2 tsp. of Cajun's Choice)
Salt to taste

If you are using bacon, cut it into small pieces and cook it slowly in a medium pot.  If you are using a ham hock, heat the oil in the pot.  Once the bacon is crispy, increase the heat to medium-high and add the celery, onion and peppers and saute until they begin to brown.  Add the garlic and spices, stir well.  Add black-eyed peas and water to cover the peas by about 1 inch.  Cook over medium heat anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to cook to tenderness (the cooking time depends on the age of the peas, where they were grown and what water you are using).  Add more water if necessary.  We like our Hoppin' John to be slightly soupy so that we can serve over rice with a little liquid to flavor the rice.

Hoppin' John
Hoppin' John is a humble, peasant meal, but it is elevated to somewhat noble status with the addition of Southern Raised Biscuits.  Although we love a good baking powder biscuit, nothing quite compares with a yeast raised biscuit.  They are a wonderful combination of quick bread ease and yeast bread flavor.  My recipe came from my best friend Dae (who has all the best recipes) and is simply perfect.

Southern Raised Biscuits
1 C. buttermilk (just add a little lemon juice or vinegar to sweet milk to make buttermilk)
1/2 C. warm water
1 T. dry yeast (or 1 packet)
2 T. sugar
4 C. flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 C. shortening, butter or lard
2 T. butter, melted (optional) for brushing

Heat milk and water, add sugar and yeast.  Stir and let sit to "sponge".  Mix together dry ingredients and cut in shortening.  Add liquids and knead dough until smooth.  Roll, cut into biscuits.  Place on a greased baking sheet (or two).  Brush with melted butter, if desired.  Let rise 30 minutes.  Bake at 400° for 12 minutes.  (Remember - if making this with stored foods, you can use powdered milk to replace the milk and lard or shortening to replace the butter).

Liquids "sponging" and dry ingredients
Liquids just added
Cutting out the biscuits
Ready for the oven
Lovely and golden brown
A very different texture than baking powder biscuits
Beans are an integral part of anyone's food stores.  This is a recipe well worth giving a try.  Have a wonderful dinner!


  1. Oh my, what goodness!
    Here is a tad of some history to ponder on the origins of "Hoppin' John" while you're enjoying a bowl full with those angel biscuits.
    My mouth is watering.

    Most food historians generally agree that "Hopping John" is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean roots. There are many tales or legends that explain how Hoppin' John got its name:
    Here are a few.

    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.

    A man named John came "a-hoppin" when his wife took the dish from the stove to the table.

    An obscure South Carolina custom was inviting a guest to eat by saying, "Hop in, John"

    The dish goes back at least as far as 1841, when, according to tradition, it was hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled black man who was known as Hoppin' John.

    Hoppin' John is found in most states of the South, but it is mainly associated with North and South coastal Carolinas. Gullah, or Low Country cuisine reflects the cooking of the Carolinas, especially the Sea islands (a cluster of islands stretching along the coasts of south Carolina and northern Georgia). Black-eyed peas, also called cow peas, are thought to have been introduced to America by African slaves who worked the rice plantations. Hoppin' John is a rich hearty, bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with spicy sausages, ham hocks, or fat pork, rice, and tomato sauce.

    This African-American dish is traditionally a high point of New Year's Day, when a shiny dime is often buried among the black-eyed peas before serving. whoever get the coin in his or her portion is assured good luck throughout the year. For maximum good luck in the new year, the first thing that should be eaten on New year's Day is Hoppin' John. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, many southern families toast each other with a libation and a bowl of Hoppin' John. according to different family traditions, if it is served with collard greens you might, or might not, get rich during the coming year.


  2. Enola, your biscuits always make my mouth water. I can almost taste them, with a little butter and honey. Yum!

    Beans came with the LDS Starter Kit I received last week. Right now, I can't remember what type of beans came in the Kit. Will any type of bean work in this recipe or do they have to be black-eyed peas?

    notutopia, thanks for the history lesson. Getting the background info really adds so much to the meal. I know nothing about cow peas and had never heard of Hoppin' John.

    NoCal Gal

  3. Notutopia-
    I loved your history lesson! Thanks so much.

    NoCal Gal-
    I don't see why you couldn't use any beans you have on hand, you would just need to soak them overnight first. Give black-eyed peas a try, if you can. We LOVE them!


  4. Enola, I so enjoy your posts. My mother was born and raised in South Carolina. All of her ancestors resided there, from the mid-1700's, and their descendants are there today; she was the only one who moved "north."

    Every New Year's Day, while growing up in Kansas, my mother fixed Blackeyes Peas to start the year with good luck. We ate them with rice and Piccalilli.

    My husband and I, both retired, love Blackeyed Peas, but I was missing the Piccalilli, so a couple of years ago I found an excellent recipe for it and canned quite a few jars. It was gone before Christmas. Many of my friends who live in the Northwest part of the U.S. had not heard of this wonderful and flavorful relish, so I shared some of the jars.

    Last year the summer flew by and we were prepping and re-organizing, so I didn't get to the Piccalilli. This year I intend to make more, so need to get more tomato and pepper plants going.....

  5. We never let a New Year in without a heaping bowl of Hoppin' John. Our family tradition held that you'd add one year to your life for every blackeyed pea you ate...or was that one dollar per pea to your bank account in the coming year, or something about luck? I think it all depended on which uncle's house we were visiting that year. ;)

    From what I understand, from a nutrition standpoint, Hoppin' John and rice is a nearly perfect food combination. You can't go wrong eating it.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Enola and, of course, our resident historian, Notutopia!

  6. blackeyed peas, cow peas, purple hull peas, they are all good. here in mississippi we eat our hoppin john with cornbread. and sometimes serve the peas over rice but usually just a bowl of peas with cornbread on the side for sopping up the potlikker.

  7. Hoppin' John is a staple around my house. I love the stuff and I even carry it with me in the woods when I go out for a day. The canned stuff isn't as good as home made, but it's all excellent.

  8. I tried this the other day, but I see that your results turned out a bit red whereas mine was not. Did you add any tomatoes or anything to get your results? Is the redness a result of spices?

    Either way, it was good. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Thanks for posting the Hoppin' John recipe...I'm going to try it out for tonight's dinner!

  10. Enola, I tried your biscuits and my family loved them! I like your regular buttermilk biscuits as well. Here is a "prepared foods" dish my family likes.

    Hearty Soup

    1/2 c, dry split peas
    1/3 c. beef bouillon granules
    1/4 c. pearl barley
    1/2 c. dry lentils
    1/4 c. dry minced onion
    2 t. Italian seasoning
    1/2 c. uncooked rice (brown rice works well too)
    (I call this the soup mix)

    1/2 c. small pasta (alphabets, stars, orzo, whatever

    1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey, or Italian sausage)
    3 qts. water
    1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained, or tomato sauce

    Brown the meat, drain. Add the water, tomatoes, and soup mix (not the pasta yet). Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 45 min. Add the pasta and simmer 15-20 min more.

    The soup mix is a great gift, layered in a glass jar or canister in the order given (I put the pasta in a separate little bag on top) and with the recipe on a tag. It makes a lot of soup! For home use I just put the mix in a quart seal-top bag and label.

    My husband is a serious prepper and we are preparing to move away from the suburbs to an area with more land, next year. In the meantime we are gathering books, tools, and skills towards our goal. We are homeschooling two sons and greatly respect your comments about raising them to be men and not dependent children. May God bless your family as you serve Him--regards, Pamela