Holy smokes, it’s almost August.
What?!? How on earth…?
I’m running about seven months behind on life.
Remember when I made the Caramel Apple Bread (http://phobicfoodie.com/2011/04/28/caramel-apple-bread/) and it was March and I said how I always want things off season…like caramel apples in March and candy corn in June?
Well, a couple of weeks ago I wanted Hoppin’ John in July.
I am given to understand that Hoppin’ John is traditionally considered a New Year’s kind of food…they serve it on New Year’s Day in the South and it is meant to bring prosperity and good luck for the rest of the year.
I guess I got a bit of a late start on this one, but I’ve still got five more months for that prosperity and good luck to kick in so here’s to positive thinkin’!
This particular recipe for Hoppin’ John is very similar to the one I use for Red Beans and Rice (which I have every intention of sharing with you…once the average temperature outside is no longer 110°).
I started with a basketful of veggies.
Dice up a green pepper, an onion, and a couple of stalks of celery.
In the South, this combination of vegetables is known as “Trinity”
As in “Holy Trinity”
As in “the basis for all things good.”
But, since I can never leave well enough alone, or get enough veggies in me, or follow an actual recipe without changing it, I decided to go ahead and add in a couple of diced carrots and make it a “quartet”
As in “barbershop quartet”
As in “has nothing whatsoever to do with food.”
But carrots in a soup or a stew or just about anything add a boost of vitamins, nutrients, flavor and sweetness that I find simply delightful!
The next step to Hoppin’ John Nirvana is time consuming, difficult and intimidating, but don’t let it scare you off for all will be worth it in the end:
Open four cans of black-eyed peas. Drain and rinse the contents thereof, and dump ye the beans into a crock pot.
Now dump in all your diced veggies, and a couple (or several) peeled and smashed cloves of garlic…
Thyme, basil, crushed red pepper and bay leaf…
An enormous ham hock (incidentally, if you ever cook a ham and have gobs of salty juice left over in the bottom of the roasting pan, don’t throw those drippings away! I freeze the juice by the cup in little ziplock baggies, then use it in recipes like this one. A little goes a long way to adding tons of smoky, porky flavor!)…
And about 4 cups of chicken stock…unsalted is best…
Add in a little bit of salt (but not too much…everything will cook down and condense and the flavors will become very concentrated during the long cooking time, so I like to add just a little now for flavor and finish seasoning to taste at the very end)…
Then cover it up and turn the crock pot on to high!
It’s done when the veggies are tender and the sauce has thickened up a bit. Pull out the ham hock and pull all the meat off of it, then add the shredded ham bits back in to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve it up over rice (use brown rice for that extra boost of protein and nutrition!) and top it with sliced green onions and diced tomatoes!
And shredded cheddar cheese if you are organized enough to remember to pick some up while you are grocery shopping.
I am never that organized, so no cheese for us.
Truly a genuine tragedy.
But the Hoppin’ John was delicious nonetheless!
This recipe can be done stove top as well…just let everything simmer for a few hours until thick and flavorful!
Here’s the recipe for ya’ll’s enjoyment!
1 Green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
5-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
4 cans low or no sodium black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 ham hock (about 1 lb)
4 c. unsalted chicken stock
1 tbs. each dried basil, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
4 c. cooked brown rice
1 tomato, diced
2-3 green onions, sliced
Place the first twelve ingredients in a crock pot and sprinkle lightly with salt, then cover, turn to high, and simmer for about 3 hours, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is thick.
Remove the ham hock and shred the meat. Add the meat back into the Hoppin’ John. Finish seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve over brown rice, topped with tomato, green onion and shredded cheese.
Eat and be happy!