South Carolina is known for many things – tasty Southern traditions being one of them. A highlight on the culinary map of the Palmetto State is Hoppin’ John. Derived from the Gullah culture, this dish is as legendary as it is savory. Locally sourced ingredients, flavorful seasonings and spices and a certain level of flare are all part of what makes this a classic Southern dish.
South Carolina Hoppin' John with Chef BJ Dennis
Hoppin’ John is especially popular in the South on New Year's Day because it’s thought to bring good luck, with the peas representing coins. It’s often served with collard greens, which are said to be representative of money. Some people even place a penny underneath the Hoppin’ John dish to bring a little extra luck to the family. As far as the name of the dish, legend has it an old man who sold rice and peas in Charleston had a hobble when he walked, which earned him the name Hoppin’ John.
For Chef BJ Dennis – one of Charleston’s top chefs – it’s all about reconnecting with his Gullah heritage through food. Although he didn’t plan on being a chef, he found that sometimes your passion finds you. And one of his passions is looking back to old traditions and making them new again. When it comes to preparing Gullah cuisine, he emphasizes the importance of adding your own flare to the dish.
Get a taste of South Carolina’s coastal Gullah culture with Chef BJ Dennis’ Hoppin' John recipe. From the locally sourced ingredients to Chef BJ’s special tips on how to prepare the perfect dish, this is one recipe that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Hoppin' John Recipe
1 ham hock
½ onion, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 1 ½ cups red peas (or substitute with black-eyed peas)
2 cups Carolina Gold rice (or substitute with long-grain white rice)
2 teaspoons of pepper vinegar
Let ham hock boil for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Dice onion, bell pepper and garlic–set aside. Add red peas once ham hock is tender. Stir occasionally. Next, add onion, bell pepper, garlic and pepper vinegar. Mix ingredients. Add dry spices (salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, seasoning salt and garlic salt). Add water as needed for peas (enough to cover ingredients in dish) and cover dish with lid. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Add rice to dish and cover in water. Mix ingredients and let cook for 30 minutes.