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{Part 1}

I love the idea of the traditional dishes that come along with the start of the new year and hoppin’ john is no exception.  I thought it would be fun to explore preparing black-eyed peas two different ways this week.  Today I’m sharing traditional new year’s fare here in the south: Hoppin’ John.  I think this dish is best shared with friends and neighbors as it makes a lot.

If you’re not familiar with hoppin’ john it’s just a delicious recipe for rice and beans.  The well-seasoned rice and bean mixture comes from thyme, a bay leaf and the addition of a ham hock.  In the end, you have yourself a hearty meal and hopefully if southern tradition holds true, a little bit of good luck throughout the year for you and your neighbors.

 

You’ll need 3 celery stalks, 1 large bell pepper and 1 small sweet onion all chopped.  Also, 3 garlic cloves, minced.  After this step it gets pretty easy.

Saute the chopped celery, bell pepper and onion along with the minced garlic in a large stock pot over medium heat with 2 tbsp of unsalted butter.  You’ll want the onion to turn translucent and the vegetables to begin to soften.

Once the vegetables are done add in 1 ham hock that you’ve rinsed and patted dry.  Next, add enough water to come about half-way up the ham hock.  Raise the heat to bring the water to a boil.  Then lower the heat to a simmer and add 1 bay leaf and 1 tsp of dried thyme.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare your black-eyed peas.

I used 2 cups of frozen black-eyed peas for my recipe of Hoppin’ John, however you could also use canned black-eyed peas.  Rinse them under cool water.  After the ham hock and vegetables have simmered for 30 minutes, add in your black-eyed peas.  Simmer again for 15-30 minutes.  The peas should be tender and not mushy.  Check them at 15 minutes and if they aren’t tender at this point, let them simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Add in the 2 cups of cooked long-grain rice and heat through an additional 5 minutes.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Remove the bay leaf and the ham hock.  Remove the heat from the ham hock and return the meat to the stock pot.

I hope this recipe brings you a little good luck or just some time to sit around the dinner table with your family, friends and neighbors. I’ll be posting {part 2} of my black-eyed pea series…ok, it’s not really a series per say just two posts, tomorrow.

Hoppin’ John

Ingredients

2 tbsp unsalted butter

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 small sweet onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 ham hock, rinsed

2 cups frozen black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

2 cups cooked long grain rice

1 tsp dried thyme

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat.  When butter is melted, add celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the ham hock and add enough water to come half way up the ham hock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Add bay leaf and dried thyme.  Cook, uncovered 30 minutes.

Stir in the black-eyed peas and simmer for 15-30 minutes just until peas are tender (not mushy).  Add in cooked rice, season with salt and black pepper.  Simmer an additional 5 minutes until rice is heated through.

Remove bay leaf.  Remove ham hock and let cool slightly.  Remove any meat from the ham hock and add back into stock pot.  Serve.

Yield: 8 servings

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