Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year's Day Requisites

For New Year's Day

Hoppin’ John
Hoppin' John is the rice and beans of the South. Some people make it more into a rice salad but that is not my interpretation. It should be zesty and full flavored but clean too.  I love that vinegar zip that makes things fresh.
            Tradition has is that we eat Hoppin' John on New Years Day but I feel comfortable eating it pretty much any time. It's so good that it deserves more than a once-a-year appearance on your table. The leftovers from Hoppin' John are called Skippin' Jenny.  Those leftovers can be turned into a nice soup with some ham hock stock and fresh herbs.

Serves 6
1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large Vidalia onion, minced
1 cup celery, peeled and minced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and minced
1 medium sized sweet red pepper, seeded and minced
Pinch of chile flake
1 cup basmati rice
1 teaspoon hot pepper vinegar
Salt to taste
            Place peas, hock and bay leaves in a large pot and cover with cold water.  You want to have enough water so go about two inches over your dried peas.  Place on medium high heat and bring to a boil. 
            Once the boil has been reached then simmer to medium- low heat and cover for about 25 minutes or until peas are tender but not so far as to mush them all up.  They should be tender but intact.  If there is still a lot of liquid in the pot then drain it off keeping the peas in the pot. Remove the hock from the peas and pull all the nice meat off and coarsely chop it.  The bone and sinew can be discarded.  Add the nice meat back to the peas.
            Cook your rice according to how you like it.  I like 1 to 1.5 (rice to water) for basmati.  I add some butter to the rice at the beginning and then cook it until its done.
            While the rice is cooking place a large frypan over medium heat.  Add butter and let the butter melt, bubble and froth.  Don’t brown the butter though.  Add the onion and celery and cook for four minutes stirring once in a while.  Add poblano and red pepper, lower heat to medium low and continue to cook for fifteen minutes until the flavors have really developed.  Add the pinch of Chile flake and add this mixture to your peas. 
            Now you can marry the finished rice to the finished peas and you have Hoppin’ John!  Finish with the dash of vinegar and start that year off right!

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