Hoppin’ John from Charleston’s Husk

I recently traveled to Charleston, South Carolina and made a stop at Husk, Sean Brock’s oft-written about restaurant that champions southern ingredients and traditional dishes.  I just came across a posting on Tasting Table for Hoppin’ John from Husk’s chef de cuisine, Travis Grimes.  In true Husk fashion, this traditional southern peasant dish is taken to a totally new level by Grimes, using ham hocks and bacon from Benton’s in Tennessee, Carolina Gold rice from Anson Mills and hock stock simmered for hours.  He uses the Hoppin’ John as a base for a beautifully grilled bone-in pork chop.  Here’s basically how he does it.

husk chef travis grimes

He soaks about 2 cups dried black-eyed peas in water overnight.  Then he makes a stock with ham hocks, water, bacon, tomatoes, carrots, celery, apples, sweet onions, garlic, thyme, bay and black peppercorns, gently simmering for about 4 hours.  For the Hoppin’ John, he cooks the peas in the hock stock with plum tomatoes, light brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Crystal hot sauce and a bay leaf for about an hour, strains (saving the rich “pot likker” liquid), then adds broiled corn.  Separately, he combines sweet onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno in a hot oiled pan.  After a few minutes, he adds back the peas and about half the “pot likker” and slowly reduces again for 20 minutes. The Hoppin’ John is finished by adding cooked rice, canned cherry tomatoes, scallions, chives, parsley, some lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Whew!!  Just for good measure, he tosses in a couple tablespoons of butter and tops with the pork chop! 

Wow!  That’ll make John or anybody else hop for joy!  I’ve been making Hoppin’ John every New Year’s Day for years, but not like this!  I think this will be my go-to preparation for years to come. For the detailed recipe, visit Tasting Table.

[photos by Willliam Hereford]

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