Hoppin' John is found in most southern states, but it is mainly associated with the low-country Carolinas. Black-eyed peas, also called cow-peas, are thought to have been introduced to America by African slaves who worked the rice plantations.
1 pound bag dried black eyed peas
2 large Ham hocks (about 3/4 pound)
4 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
2 cups long grain uncooked rice
Rinse and sort peas, place in a large soup pot (cast-iron dutch oven is best) over medium-high heat and cover with cold water; bring to boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 to 2 hours, drain and rinse. Using same pot over medium-high heat add soaked peas, ham hock, onion, add everything except rice. Cover these with chicken broth, bring to boil, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 1-1/2-2 hours or until the peas are tender (do not boil as the peas will burst). Remove the ham hock meat and cut into bite size pieces, (sometime I add sliced pork sausage, pork fat rules!, at this point also) return meat to pot. Stir in the rice, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
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