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Hoppin' John recipe from A Chef's Life Holiday Special + Season 2

December 9, 2014

A Chef's Life will be back to KCTS 9 with a second season and the new holiday special starting Saturday, December 20, at 3pm. Part documentary, part cooking show, the series returns with more adventures from the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who with her husband Ben Knight (pictured below with twins Theo and Florence in 2013), left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina.

We are pleased to share with you -- with special permission -- the Hoppin' John recipe from A Chef's Life Holiday Special at the end of this blog post, along with a vegetarian variation. (Thank you, Chef Vivian!)

A Chef's Life - Family Photo

A Chef’s Life SEASON 2 NEW
The series returns to find Vivian with a new list of local ingredients, each one starring in its own episode. Vivian juggles a full plate, with the opening of a second restaurant with husband Ben Knight and a bustling young family to manage.

Saturday, 12/20, 3-5pm EP 1–4
Saturday, 12/27, 3–5pm EP 5–8

A Chef’s Life Holiday Special NEW
Chef Vivian Howard creates a Southern holiday feast based on her family's Christmas and Hanukkah traditions. She also learns that mistletoe is traditionally shot out of pecan trees.

Saturday, 12/20, at 5pm
Repeats 12/25 at 7pm

Hoppin' John

Photo and recipe from A Chef’s Life Holiday Special, compliments of Chef Vivian Howard.

Hoppin’ John
To bring good luck in the year ahead, it’s Southern tradition to eat this dish on New Year’s Day.

SERVES 6 -- Serve as a side dish.

1 teaspoon cooking oil of choice
1/3 cup diced double-smoked slab bacon
1/2 cup chopped Spanish onion
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, cowpeas or red peas
1 boneless ham hock, diced
(1/4 lb. yield)
1 fresh chili pepper, slit down one side
1 sprig of fresh thyme
6 cups water or stock
1 cup long-grain unconverted white rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sort and wash the peas, picking out stones. Reserve. Heat a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, then the bacon. Cook, stirring the bacon without browning. Add the onion and cooking until soft and translucent.

Add the reserved cleaned peas to the pot, along with the ham hock, hot pepper, thyme and water. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 45 minutes until the beans are three quarters tender; and not mushy.

Measure the liquid remaining in the pot. At this point you should have 2 cups of liquid in the pot. Add water if needed. Add the rice to the pot along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Return the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the carry-over cooking finish the Hoppin’ John until the rice is tender. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Limpin’ Susan variation: Substitute 1 1/2 cups sliced okra for the black-eyed peas. Cook the okra for 10–15 minutes in 4 cups of water. Check the amount of water remaining and add the rice as directed above.


There are 4 comments

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Would KCTS be able to determine and post the identities of the various guest chefs that Vivian collaborated with in making this special? It is really difficult to obtain genuine southern regional cooking recipes up here in the PNW especially what is called "low country cooking" recipes. I did look at her blog but didn't see that information there either. Thanks if you can do that.

E-mail me, Jan. I'm here in the lowcountry of South Carolina and I would be more than happy to help you obtain any recipe you need.

I see that season 2 of a Chef's Life began in October of 2014 so I would like to know when will the series be shown here in Seattle?

In actually curious about the mixer used to make the cake. What type mixer is used?

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