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Hoppin' John No. 2: Judy Epps was lucky to learn about field peas, essential to this recipe

Judy Epps' hoppin' John

Provided / Sara Burns Gibson

For 30 years, Judy Epps greeted the new year with what she thought were the traditional good-luck foods: Pork, collard greens and black-eyed peas served over rice.

“After learning about real hoppin' John, I changed my menu,” she says. “For the last two decades, I have done it right.”

Epps’ version of hoppin’ John done right follows. Presumably it’s brought her better luck than a pile of separately cooked black-eyed peas and white rice.

Judy Epps’ hoppin’ John


1 cup dried field peas

3 strips bacon

1 cup long grain rice

1 onion, chopped



Examine field peas for “misfits” to pick out, such as twigs or rocks. Add peas to a large pot and cover with water. Soak overnight.

Boil peas over high heat until tender. Remove pot from heat. Drain peas over a large bowl, reserving liquid.

Fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon of grease. Crumble bacon; set aside.

To a medium saucepan, add peas, rice, onion, bacon crumbles, bacon grease and 1½ cups of pea water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Salt to taste.

Editor’s note: Judy Epps’ hoppin’ John is one of four competing in The Post and Courier food section’s recipe contest for a category crown. Over the course of a year, the newspaper will publish four reader-supplied recipes for each of 12 iconic Lowcountry dishes.

Featured recipes have been lightly edited to conform with the newspaper’s style, but they have not been tested: It’s up to readers to choose a winner. To weigh in on the okra soup race, join us at

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Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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