Anytime Hoppin’ John & Hoppin’ John Cakes

hoppin john cakes-sara_shoot3_0347 copy.jpg

When it comes to good luck, Southerners don’t take any chances. Each year on New Year’s Day, we hedge our bets by eating hoppin’ John, a rustic mix of rice, black-eyed peas, bacon, and onion that is thought to bring good fortune in the year to come. (Literally—the peas in the dish represent coins, and the stewed collards that are usually served on the side are the rich green of dollar bills.) Making the Hoppin’ John Cakes is a great way to use your leftovers.


2  cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas

3 to 4 cups water

2  tablespoons olive oil

1⁄4  pound smoked ham, diced

1  small red onion, diced

1⁄2  red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1  jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1  cup long-grain white rice (preferably Carolina Gold)

2  teaspoons fresh thyme

1  teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

1 1⁄2  cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1  tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1  tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1⁄4  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

Heirloom Tomato Salsa, for serving

Scallions, trimmed and chopped, for garnish

1. Place the peas in a saucepan with the water and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until just crisp-tender.

2. Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a separate large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the ham and cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until the ham is light brown around the edges. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño and cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice, thyme, and salt and cook and stir until the rice is coated. Add the broth and stir only once to mix, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

3. Drain the peas and add to the pan with the rice; continue to cook, covered, for another 10 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed, the peas are tender, and the rice is fluffy. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, cilantro, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and serve warm, topped with the salsa and garnished with scallions.

 Hoppin’ John Cakes


1. Place 2 cups of the cold, leftover Hoppin’ John in a bowl and mash slightly with a potato masher. Add 1 large egg, lightly beaten, 1⁄4 cup fresh bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Stir to combine, then form the mixture into small cakes, about 2 inches round. Place 1⁄4 cup additional fresh bread crumbs in a small low bowl and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dip each cake into the bread crumbs, pressing the cakes into the bread crumbs so that they adhere on both sides. Refrigerate the cakes until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling hot. Sauté the cakes until golden brown and heated through, about 3 minutes per side, turning only once. Serve warm topped with a poached egg or a handful of mixed greens and Heirloom Tomato Salsa.