Hoppin’ John Burgers

In The Third Plate, Chef Dan Barber takes a road trip to find out how Glenn Roberts got into heirloom grains.  The story goes like this: Roberts’ mother was nostalgic for the “Carolina Rice Kitchen” cuisine of her youth, particularly the type of rice she loved but could no longer find.  He started growing plots of heirloom rice as a hobby, but the rice had characteristics of other strains, and none passed his mother’s taste tests.  He collaborated with a rice geneticist in Texas and eventually found the unadulterated Carolina Gold rice his mother loved.  That was just the beginning.  Today he’s reviving many heirloom grains of the South, growing and milling them organically, and making them a viable crop again.  His company is Anson Mills.

I had to try them.  I placed an order for yellow grits, polenta, Carolina Gold rice and Sea Island red peas.  The grains are cold-milled to order and they have to be stored in the freezer upon arrival.  Cooking them is different than shelf-stable products, so they recommend using their recipes to get started.   I was happy to oblige.

Hoppin’ John is a traditional southern dish of field peas and rice.  It’s supposed to give you good luck if you eat them on New Year’s Day, but I say it’s not too late.

This is Hoppin’ John in burger form.  It requires commitment.  Once you open the pot of steaming rice and peas, you’ll probably want to stop there and grab a fork.  But you’ve got to stay the course.  These burgers have a hearty texture thanks to sunflower seeds and almonds, and they’re big on flavor with shallots, garlic and curry.  The bun is optional for me, but the pickled okra is not.

This is a meal to start the year off right.  Thanks to Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills for allowing me to share the recipe here.

Hoppin’ John Burgers


  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Sea Island Red Peas
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Carolina Gold Rice
  • fine sea salt
  • olive oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup whole raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons raw shelled sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated


1:  Make the Rice and Peas.  Put the peas into a medium bowl and cover them with 2 inches of cool water. Let soak at room temperature for 2 hours. Drain them. Bring 1½ cups water to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the peas, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer very gently until the peas are plump and softened, about 25 minutes. Stir in the rice and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook very gently until the water has been absorbed and the rice and peas are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.

2: Saute seasonings.  In a small skillet over low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon tahini. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant and slightly softened, about 45 seconds. Stir in the garlic, curry, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and sauté until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 10 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3:  Get out the food processor.  Put the almonds in the food processor bowl and pulse until coarsely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Add the sunflower seeds and pulse a few times more. Add the rice and peas and the sautéed seasonings into the food processor. Add remaining tablespoon of tahini, mustard, and grated carrot. Pulse until the mixture comes together but is still fairly coarse, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Shape into 6 patties.

4:  Fry the patties.  Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet and heat it over medium heat. Fry the burgers in a single layer, turning them as they brown, until crisped on the surface and hot throughout, about 6 minutes. Serve the burgers hot, on buns or off, with condiments of choice and pickled okra.

4 Comments Hoppin’ John Burgers

  1. Christina @ Whip This Up January 7, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Do these beans or rice taste different than the traditional varieties, to you?
    I totally bought pickled okra last night. I love that I’m not the only one who adores the stuff!

    1. suwanneerose January 7, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Love the peas, better than any black-eyed peas I’ve ever had (better texture, less mealy). The rice is shorter-grained and a bit plain to me. The grits are a whole new world. They taste like sweet corn.

  2. Adrienne June 28, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I made the Anson’s red peas according to their slow cook recipe and then tried black eye peas with the same recipe. The red peas won hands down. So Yummy!

    1. suwanneerose June 28, 2017 at 9:21 am

      I agree! Thanks for reminding me to order more, Adrienne!

Comments are closed.