Good luck and prosperity

January 2, 2007 on 6:23 pm | By | In Recipes | No Comments

Hoppin' John

So what’s a New England Yankee turned diehard Seattleite doing serving Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day? Ain’t than a southern thang?

Well, yes (folklore has it that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day brings good luck and money). But ever since my client — a fiesty Texan who relishes her Southern comfort food traditions — turned me on to this dish I was hooked. You see, I’ve always been partial to a hearty bowl of beans. Rich and nourishing, they satisfy on so many levels. When it’s cold and dank outside, they warm me from within. When I’ve overindulged, they fill me up without packing on the calories. When I’m stopped up, well — you get the picture. Add cruciferous greens and you get a nutrient dense and visually appealing dish.

Although you can use dried black-eyed peas (which take much longer to cook), Melissa‘s offers up 11 ounce tubs of fresh peas just in time for New Year’s. Of course, being the Yankee that I am, I had to tweak the recipe (for when I eat it; HEAVEN FORBID I mess with my client’s version). Rather than using the traditional collard greens, I prefer kale, not only for taste but for the shorter cooking time. A meaty, smoky ham hock is key, although if you don’t do pork then a smoked turkey leg works well too. You could also make a vegetarian version, but you’ll lose the smoky flavor (unless you want to throw in a few drops of Liquid Smoke). As with most stews and soups, Hoppin’ John is best when you allow the flavors to meld for a day. But if you’re hard pressed for time, they’re still pretty tasty when eaten the same day.

For this batch I cooked the peas with the stock and ham hocks until they were al dente, about 1 hour or so. I then let them steep in the broth while I went to have coffee with a famous food blogger. When I returned I brought the pot back to a simmer and added the chopped kale, letting it cook until tender. Because I like my food spicy, I added plenty of Tony Chachere’s and chipotle Tabasco (which also adds to the smokiness), but if you like things more mild, just season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice or cornbread, if desired.

May 2007 bring you luck and prosperity!

Hoppin’ John, Yankee Style
Approximately 8 servings

1 tablespoon oil
2 onions, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)
6 cups chicken stock (homemade, if possible)
2 11-ounce containers fresh black-eyed peas
1 large, meaty ham hock
1 bunch leafy green kale
Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning salt (or regular salt), to taste
Chipotle Tabasco, to taste

Rinse peas in a large colander. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high. Add onions and saute until beginning to brown, approximately 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add peas, ham hocks and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until peas are al dente, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead, if desired).

Remove ham hock from pot and cool. Cut meat from the bones and chop. Remove center stems from kale and chop coarsely. Add kale and ham to pot, cover and continue cooking until kale is tender. Season with salt and Tabasco to taste and serve with cornbread or over rice.

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