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Esau's Hoppin' John

Yield Makes 6 to 8 servings
If your dish's color is lighter than Esau's, it's because he stirs in a dark, thick stock right after the rice goes in. Because it takes hours to make that stock, we used chicken broth (a lighter color) and still got great results.


  • 1 (16-ounce) package dried field peas or black-eyed peas
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 ounces fatback*
  • 2 (8-ounce) smoked ham hocks
  • 1 cup medium-size sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 cup water, divided
  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain rice
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Chicken broth

How to Make It

  1. Place field peas in a Dutch oven; add water to cover 2 inches above peas. Bring to a boil, and boil 1 minute. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 1 hour. Drain peas, and set aside.

  2. Place peeled garlic cloves and next 3 ingredients in the center of a large coffee filter; bring sides up, and tie with kitchen twine. Set garlic-and-herb bag aside.

  3. Sauté fatback in Dutch oven over medium-low heat 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove fatback, reserving drippings in Dutch oven, and discard.

  4. Add ham hock to Dutch oven, and cook 5 minutes or until skin becomes crispy and lean portion of the ham hock is tender. (Use the tines of a fork to test tenderness.)

  5. Add onion and minced garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours.

  6. Bring remaining 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; stir in rice and 2 teaspoons salt. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Set rice aside.

  7. Add field peas, garlic-and-herb bag, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to ham hock mixture in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. Remove and discard garlic-and-herb bag.

  8. Stir cooked rice into field pea mixture; simmer 5 minutes or until heated through, adding broth, if necessary.

  9. *Salt pork may be substituted.

  10. Note: Esau uses a short-grain rice. He says you can substitute 4 cups of cooked long-grain rice, prepared according to package directions, but it will have a different texture.