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Hoppin’ John

Hoppin' JohnNo Random Tuesday Thoughts this week.  Perhaps I’m just losing my randomness?

Nah.

Actually, I think I’m suffering slightly from blog-burnout, a lingering after-affect of blogging every day last month, then continuing to blog every weekday this month.  I don’t think I’m losing my mojo – it’s just tired and needs a break.  I think I’ll give it one next weekend when we go to Hocking Hills, and won’t post Friday through Monday.

At any rate, while thinking about what I would write about today, I started thinking about the weather (cool and wet – Fall is definitely here) and dinner, which should go with the cool, wet weather.  With Beloved out of town for more than a week, I am going to have to just cook for myself; if I let The Young One choose the menu like I did last night, we’ll end up eating chicken nuggets or pizza rolls with carrot and celery sticks and mac ‘n’ cheese every night (while watching 3 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD – but hey, we had a nice evening).  So, tonight I’m making this:

Hoppin’ John.

If you asked Oldest Son what his favorite dish is, he’d probably come back with “Spinach-stuffed pork loin with fruit sauce” (another recipe I’ll have to post soon) accompanied by this simple casserole of black-eyed peas and rice.  Hoppin’ John is fairly ubiquitous in the South and is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day; in our house, it’s served far more often.  Growing up, my mother made this with canned black-eyed peas and Minute rice and while instant rice is not allowed in my home, I’ve made it upon occasion with the canned peas.  However, having said that, it is best made with dried peas and since black-eyed peas require no soaking and cook up fairly quickly (compared to other dried beans, which is what black-eyed peas really are) you can have this dish on the table in fairly short order.  It’s a great side dish for pork – which is how Oldest Son prefers it – or by itself with just some hot, buttered corn bread on the side.  For me, it personifies comfort food.

This is a very basic recipe; you can jazz this up just about any way you like, and add bell peppers and celery to the onion, throw in some tomatoes, substitute the bacon with salt pork or a small hamhock (pick the meat off that hock and add it back in before serving!) or a good, spicy smoked sausage like Andouille.  It can be made vegetarian by leaving the meat out all together and spicing it up with some cumin, cayenne or thyme and bay leaf.

Hoppin’ John

makes 4 – 6 main dish servings, or 8 side dish servings

6 thick slices of bacon, chopped

one medium onion, chopped

1 cup dried black-eyed peas

5 – 6 cups water

1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

Sort and rinse the black-eyed peas.  Fry the bacon in a large saucepan (or small pot) over medium heat until almost crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Lower the heat and saute the onion in the bacon fat in the saucepan until soft and almost translucent.

Return the bacon to the saucepan and add the peas.  Pour in the water and remove any peas that float to the top.  Gently boil the black-eyed peas, uncovered, until tender but not mushy – about 1 1/2 hours – and about 2 cups liquid remain.  Add the rice to the pot, stir, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, never lifting the lid.

Remove from the heat and allow to steam, still covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover, fluff with a fork, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.





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