Instant Pot Hoppin’ John, made of black-eyed peas, pork and rice, is a Southern New Year’s Day tradition that can be made right in your electric pressure cooker.
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Hoppin’ John sounds like the name of a peg-legged first mate from Pirates of the Caribbean. Actually, it’s a simple dish of black-eyed peas, braised pork and rice traditionally served in the Southern United States on New Year’s Day. Legend and lore stipulate that eating a bowl of Hoppin’ John alongside a mess of turnip or collard greens and cornbread for sopping will bring good luck and fortune in the new year.
Why is it Called Hoppin’ John?
Some of the South’s most iconic dishes actually derive from Africa and the slave trade. Hoppin’ John is no exception. Black eyed peas originate from West Africa, so it’s possible they made their way to America on a slave boat. Because they were so cheap and plentiful, peas and rice became a staple of a slave’s diet.
But why do we eat it on New Year’s Day? Supposedly, the peas represent prosperity. The greens represent money and wealth. Pork will bring you luck as you move forward into the future, and yellow cornbread represents gold.
How to Make Hoppin’ John in an Instant Pot
My Instant Pot has quickly replaced my slow cooker for dishes that need a low and slow cooking time. The best thing about an Instant Pot, however, is that the slow cooking time is cut down to a fraction of what it would normally take. I love using it for recipes like Red Beans and Rice, Black Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage, Pot Roast and now Hoppin’ John.
“Pre-Soaking” the Peas
This recipe uses dried peas, but don’t worry. You don’t have to fool with pre-soaking them first. We’re going to let the pressure cooker take care of all of the. Start by pouring the black-eyed peas into the insert of the Instant Pot. Add five cups of chicken broth and two teaspoons of salt. Replace the lid and seal. Set the Instant Pot to MANUAL, then set the time to 0 minutes. Yes, you read that right. Zero minutes.
Let the pressure from the beans release naturally. This should take about 15 minutes. You do not need to drain the peas. Add two smoked ham hocks to the pot. You can also use the bone from a leftover holiday ham or six slices of chopped thick-cut bacon. In addition, add one stalk of diced celery, one diced onion, two cloves of minced garlic, one teaspoon of Cajun seasoning and two bay leaves. Give everything a good stir.
The Pot-in-Pot Cooking Method
This is literally a one pot meal. You can even cook the rice in the same pot. The trick is a cooking method known as pot-in-pot. For this, you’ll need a 3-inch tall metal trivet and an oven safe bowl. The Pyrex bowl I have linked to fits perfectly. You’ll also need a long strip of aluminum foil folded over several times. We’re going to use it as a sling to easily lift the trivet and the bowl of rice out of the Instant Pot when we’re done.
Thread the foil sling under the trivet. Leave the sides sticking up. Place the trivet in the pot over the food. Place the oven safe bowl over on top of the trivet, then add the rice to the bowl. I like the grain of my rice more defined, so I only add ¾ cup of water of chicken broth per one cup of rice. Season the rice with a little salt to your preference. The fold the sides of the foil sling over.
Replace the lid and seal the pot. Set the pot to MANUAL pressure, then set the timer for 30 minutes. Afterwards, let the pressure release naturally, about 15-20 minutes. Once the pressure has released and you’ve removed the lid, lift up the two sides of the sling and carefully lift the oven safe bowl and the trivet out of the pot and set to the side. Remove the bowl of rice from the trivet and fluff the rice with a fork.
Remove the bay leaves from the peas and discard them. If you used ham hocks or a ham bone, remove the meat from the bone and shred it. Stir the meat back into the peas. Season the Hoppin’ John with additional salt if needed.
Serve Hoppin’ John over the hot cooked rice. Garnish with chopped green onions and hot sauce for additional heat. If you want a true Southern experience, serve with turnip greens and cornbread on the side.
How to Store the Leftovers
Allow any leftovers to cool, then transfer to an airtight container with a lid. Store in the refrigerator and consume with five days. To freeze, transfer to a freezer safe container or plastic freezer bag. If using a plastic bag, squeeze out the air before sealing. I also prefer to lay the contents of my bag out flat in the freezer until it becomes solid, the stack to take up less room. Hoppin’ John can be frozen for up to six months.
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Instant Pot Hoppin’ John
- 1 (16-ounce) bag dried black-eyed peas
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons salt plus more for seasoning
- 1 smoked ham hock hambone or six slices of chopped thick-cut bacon
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 green onions sliced
- 4 cups cooked white rice
- Hot sauce optional
- Pour the black-eyed peas into the Instant Pot. Add the chicken broth.
- Add the teaspoons of salt. Replace the lid and seal. Set the Instant Pot to MANUAL, then set the time to 0 minutes.
- Let the pressure from the beans release naturally. This should take about 15 minutes. You do not need to drain the beans.
- Add the ham hock (or whatever protein you are using) along with the celery, onion, garlic, Cajun seasoning and bay leaves. Stir everything until combined.
- To cook the rice, place a 3-inch tall trivet into the pot, over the black-eyed peas mixture. Set an oven safe bowl on top of the trivet.
- Add the rice to the oven-safe bowl. Add ¾ cup of water or chicken stock per one cup of rice. Season the rice with salt to taste.
- Replace the lid and seal the pot. Set the pot to MANUAL pressure, then set the timer for 30 minutes. Afterwards, let the pressure release naturally, about 15-20 minutes. Once the pressure has released and you’ve removed the lid, carefully lift the oven safe bowl and the trivet out of the pot and set aside. Remove the bowl of rice from the trivet and fluff the rice with a fork.
- Remove the bay leaves from the peas and discard.
- If using ham hocks or a ham bone, remove the meat and shred. Stir the meat back into the peas.
- Season the Hoppin’ John with additional salt if needed.
- Serve Hoppin’ John over the hot cooked rice. Garnish with chopped green onions. Sprinkle with more hot sauce for additional heat.