Monday, December 31, 2018

SOUTHERN HOPPIN' JOHN

When you cook your black-eyed peas with rice, it is known as Hoppin' John. The southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's day is believed to have started after the Civil War. It was first planted as food for livestock and the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as General Sherman's Union troops destroyed other crops. It became a nourishing food source for the surviving Confederates who considered themselves lucky. For the complete tradition, serve them with either, collards, mustard greens, or turnip greens, which represents paper money, and cornbread, which represents gold. Flavor them with ham and bacon and the tradition is complete. These legumes are a good source of calcium, folate, fiber, and vitamin A. 


1 ½ cups dried black-eyed peas
2 slices bacon, diced
1 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
½ red or green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
5 cups chicken stock
1 t dried thyme or 1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 cup white rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup diced ham (preferably Virginia ham)
Minced parsley, for garnish
Hot sauce, at the table

Pour black-eyed peas into a bowl and sort through them to make sure there aren’t any small pebbles.

In a saucepan, add the dried peas and cover with water to 2 inches above peas.
Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit 3 to 4 hours.
Drain the peas and set aside.

In the same saucepan, cook bacon pieces until crisp. 
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Pour out most of the bacon grease and add the butter and sauté the onion, celery, and bell pepper for 10 minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes.
Sauté another 2 minutes.
Add chicken stock, thyme, and black-eyed peas.
Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Cover and simmer slowly for 20 minutes.
Add rice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer slowly for 15 minutes, add a little more chicken stock or water, if too dry.

Stir in the diced ham and spoon into a warm serving bowl.
Garnish with bacon and parsley and take hot sauce to the table.

Serves 4 to 6