Posted by: A Part of the Solution | December 29, 2010

Hoppin’ John

The New Year is almost upon us. My Southern roots begin to show as I start inventorying the pantry to be certain I have all the ingredients I’ll need to make Hoppin’ John. I can’t think of a New Year’s Day coming up when I didn’t have a dish of Hoppin’ John. I once attended a New Year’s potluck where there were no fewer than seven versions of Hoppin’ John on the table.

Hoppin’ John is inexpensive to make. Hoppin’ John is easy to make. Hoppin’ John may guarantee a lice-free year to come (according to some traditions), or a year of prosperity and peace in the home (according to others).

Some Hoppin’ John recipes contain only four or five ingredients. Some contain more than fifteen. Some are for carnivorous eaters, some are vegetarian friendly and some are even suitable for vegans. The first version I mentioned is most traditional in the American  South. And the meat in it ‘ought’ to be fatback, hocks or bacon.

Here’s ‘With’ and ‘Without’.

Hoppin’ John

1/2 lb fatback, blanched and sliced or 1/2 lb. of bacon cut into strips

2 large onions, peeled and chopped

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced with 1/2 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp, or to taste, red pepper flakes

2 TBSP tomato paste

2 1/2 cups black eyed peas, rinsed and picked through

2 bay leaves

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided

2 1/2 cups water

1 large, or 2 small, bell pepper, chopped

1 can green chilis, chopped

1 1/2 cups rice

1 TBSP malt vinegar

1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat, sauté the fatback or bacon (or even a ham hock, should you have one laying around). Once your meat has released some fat, add in the onions. Sauté these for a few minutes and add in the pepper flakes and the garlic.

Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the bay leaves, 4 cups of stock, one cup of the water and the black eyed peas. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to cook, skimming occasionally for 1-1 1/2 hours–until the peas are tender enough that one comes apart softly when you press it between your tongue and your palate.

Heat the remaining stock and water in a small pan. Add the rice, the bell peppers and the green chilis to the bean mixture. Now add the hot liquid from the small pan. Cover and cook for 25-35 minutes over very low heat until almost all the liquid is absorbed.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top of the Hoppin’ John. Put the dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly and somewhat brown. Serve with gusto, assurance and slow-cooked collards.

Vegetarian/Vegan Hoppin’ John

3 TBSP unrefined peanut oil + 1 tsp (hot) dark sesame oil

2 large onions, peeled and chopped

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced with 1/2 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp, or to taste, red pepper flakes

2 TBSP tomato paste

2 1/2 cups black eyed peas, rinsed and picked through

2 bay leaves

6 cups vegetable stock, divided

2 1/2 cups water

1 large, or 2 small, bell pepper, chopped

1 can green chilis, chopped

1 1/2 cups rice

1 TBSP malt vinegar

1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated or 1/3 cup nutritional yeast mixed with 1 TBSP olive oil

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat, get the oils hot and add in the onions. Sauté these for a few minutes and add in the pepper flakes and the garlic.

Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the bay leaves, 4 cups of stock, one cup of the water and the black eyed peas. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to cook, skimming occasionally for 1-1 1/2 hours–until the peas are tender enough that one comes apart softly when you press it between your tongue and your palate.

Heat the remaining stock and water in a small pan. Add the rice, the bell peppers and the green chilis to the bean mixture. Now add the hot liquid from the small pan. Cover and cook for 25-35 minutes over very low heat until almost all the liquid is absorbed.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Stir the vinegar into the Hoppin’  John. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese/nutritional yeast mixture over the top of the Hoppin’ John. Put the dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly and somewhat brown. Serve with gusto, assurance and slow cooked collards.

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Responses

  1. […] Year’s Day. Linguine al Funghi is a sophisticated counterpoint to the slow-cooking wonders of Hoppin’ John. What’s not to love about a quick, simple and eminently edible Linguine al Funghi while […]


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