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Enjoy Magazine

New Year’s Hoppin’ John

01/05/2014 02:40PM ● By Lana Granfors
Recipe by Lana Granfors
Photo by Kara Stewart

In the south, Hoppin’ John is standard New Year’s Day fare. The traditional recipe is a simple and delicious dish of peas, smoked ham hocks, collard greens and rice, and it has graced holiday tables since the 1800s. It’s believed to bring luck and peace in the coming year to anyone who eats it.

As far back as I can remember, I have eaten this on New Year’s Day.  This modern Hoppin’ John recipe uses smoked turkey thighs for the same great flavor, but with less fat.  I also like to add jalapenos and red bell pepper for a bit of color and spice.  Serve a big scoop atop freshly cooked brown rice, sautéed greens and hot golden cornbread.  Champagne is an awfully good accompaniment.  For a vegetarian version, omit the pork and substitute sautéed Portobello mushrooms and a bit of hot sauce for flavoring depth.


2 T olive oil

1 cup red onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

1 cup red bell pepper, chopped

2 jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, chopped

1 T chopped garlic

2 smoked turkey thighs, skin removed

1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained

1 qt. low-sodium chicken stock

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

1 tsp. salt

½  tsp. pepper 

5 cups freshly cooked brown rice

1 cup green onion, chopped for garnish


Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic, and cook until opaque and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the turkey thighs, peas, chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme and season with the salt, pepper and cayenne.  Simmer for 1 hour, or until peas are creamy and tender. If liquid evaporates, add more stock or water. Remove turkey legs and allow them to cool before handling. Remove meat from bone and return meat only to the pot. Adjust seasonings if needed. Garnish with chopped green onions. 

Serves: 8 - 10

Prep: 20 mins: Cook: 1 hour: Total: 1 hour, 20 minutes