Best Hoppin John

Hoppin John and Willie Hines Interview

Hoppin John – A New Year’s Tradition. In the Southern United States, Hoppin John is something that is served around New Year’s Day. It is a simple dish of black-eyed peas, pork, and rice. The old wives’ tale is that it’s believed to bring luck and peace in the coming year to anyone who eats it. #soulfoodsunday #hoppinjohn

Charlie DeSando and Willie Hines
Charlie DeSando and Willie Hines

Cooking with Milwaukee Community Leaders

My Guest for Cooking with Milwaukee Community Leaders is Willie Hines. Willie is currently the Secretary-Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) and has been with HACM since 2014. He oversees HACM’s public housing and housing choice voucher programs, which provide affordable housing options to over 10,000 low-income families, seniors, and adults with disabilities.

A former resident of Milwaukee’s public housing, Hines believes that stable, affordable housing provides the foundation for opportunity and good quality of life.

Before joining the staff of HACM, he served as President of the Milwaukee Common Council (2004-2014) and Alderman of Milwaukee’s 15th District (1996 to 2014). He also served as Chairman of HACM’s Board of Commissioners from 1998-2014.

Before being on the Milwaukee Common Council, Willie worked as an economic development specialist at the Milwaukee Urban League. He was a business liaison representative for former Congressman James Moody (D-WI), and in the private sector for both Pepsi and Ford Motor Credit.

Willie has a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and also played basketball at Marquette. He was recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award in 2014.

Hoppin John History

Some say an old man called Hoppin John became known for selling peas and rice on the streets of Charleston, SC. But some food historians think the name comes from a French term for dried peas, “pois pigeons.”

Hoppin John and New Year’s Luck

It’s not known why the dish became associated with New Year’s and good luck. The story that is given the most credence is that enslaved people would often have the period between Christmas and New Year’s off since no crops were growing at that time. Hoppin John was, and still is, often eaten with collard greens, which can resemble paper money and “golden” cornbread. The black-eyed peas are supposed to look like coins. Some families hedge their bets around the potential of their Hoppin John by placing a penny underneath the dishes. Or they just add extra pork, which is thought to bring more luck.

Modern Hoppin John

Some modern versions of Hoppin John exchange the pork for smoked turkey thighs. Those bring flavor but less fat to the meal. And it is served on top of steamed white rice.

One tradition common in the Southern US is that everyone at the table should leave three peas from their Hoppin John on their plate. That is supposed to ensure that the New Year will be filled with luck, fortune, and romance.

Cooking With Milwaukee Community Leaders

I do a short interview with my guest, talk about their work in the community, and then cook something at our condo building. They pick whatever we are going to cook and I act as their sous chef.

You can view the previous Cooking/Interview at the links listed below.

Charlie DeSando and Wendy Baumann
Charlie DeSando and Wendy Baumann

Wendy Baumann (President of WWBIC) Interview – Tuna Bien Masabe Jose Andres Recipe – recipe article is at

Enjoy the meal
Enjoy the meal

Sadhna Lindvall (President of the Shorewood Foundation) Interview – Pastelillos (Dominican empanadas recipe article is at

Enjoying the margaritas
Enjoying the margaritas

Wendell Willis (Former MPS Foundation Exec Director) Interview – Steak Fajitas – Easy Margarita Recipe recipe article is

Charlie DeSando and Ricardo Diaz
Charlie DeSando and Ricardo Diaz

Ricardo Diaz (Former Exec Director of UCC) Interview – Cuban Tostones and Plantains Recipe – Recipe article is

Charlie DeSando and Mayor Johnson
Charlie DeSando and Mayor Johnson

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson – Copycat McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwiches – YouTube Video is at The Recipe article is

Charlie DeSando and Joanne Anton
Charlie DeSando and Joanne Anton

Joanne Anton, Director of Giving for Herb Kohl Philanthropies – Spanakopita, The Youtube video can be seen at Joanne Anaton -Spanakopita. The recipe article is at

Charlie DeSando & Cecelia Gore
Charlie & Cecelia

Cecelia Gore is the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Brewers Community Foundation. Cecelia is listed in the 2023 Milwaukee Business Journal’s Top 100 Powerbrokers in Milwaukee. After our interview, Cecelia shows us how to make the Stetson Salad. The YouTube video is here – The recipe can be found here –

Best Hoppin John

Hoppin John

Hoppin John is a New Year’s Tradition. In the Southern US, Hoppin John is a simple dish of black-eyed peas, pork, and rice.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Hoppin John
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 160kcal


  • No special equipment needed


  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 pkg frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 oz. andouille sausage sliced
  • 1/3 cup onion chopped
  • 1/3 cup green pepper chopped
  • 1/3 cup red pepper chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 2 15- oz. cans of black-eyed peas
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1.5 packets of Goya seasoning
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • Cornbread optional


  • Cook the rice according to the package directions.
  • Put frozen spinach in a pan and heat separately on medium-low. Season with Salt & pepper
    Frozen Spinach into the pot
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sausage and cook, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Sausage added
  • Add the peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
    Hoppin John Aromatics
  • Stir in the jalapenos and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the beans and cook until heated through.
    Hoppin John Black Eyed Peas
  • Add garlic powder and Goya seasoning. Paprika, salt, and pepper
  • Add Bar-B-Q sauce and stir to combine
    Sweet Baby Rays Added to Hoppin John
  • Stir to combine and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes
    Hoppin John in the Pan
  • Serve over the rice and also serve with Cornbread.



Serving: 1cup | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 940mg | Potassium: 422mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 500IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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If you like this recipe for Hoppin John then you should try our recipe for Red Beans and Rice

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