Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hoppin' John ****

Being born to a family with Southern roots, black-eyed peas are a staple on New Year's Day.  That, along with putting quarters in the windows and not doing laundry are a must in our family.  My grandmother just passed this last summer, and up until her very last New Year's, she would call around the night before and remind everyone not to do laundry.  It's the only way in which she was superstitious.  Every other fiber of her being was rooted in what is stable and reliable.  So for the remainder of my years on this Earth, I will be enjoying black-eyed peas with my quartered windows and dirty laundry on New Year's Day.  And I will be missing her the entire time.

That said, this is the only way my hubby will eat black-eyed peas, which is odd, considering that he was born and raised in the South, while I was born and raised further to the North.  So many of our first years of dating and marriage were spent with me trying to force-feed him a spoonful of black-eyed peas once a year.  Thanks to GatorGrrl, though, we've been enjoying this one together for the past 6 years.  I always serve it with Sweet Corn Cake (also from the BBC CFYF board).  Both recipes are typically only a once-a-year thing for us, which makes them a special treat.  Our kids love it as much as we do, which is a blessing in itself.  I've made a few changes over the years (mainly using green chilies for the jalapeno and cubed ham for the ham hock), but all in all, we stick pretty firmly to the recipe.  Why fix it if it ain't broke?  ;-)

(Sharon --GatorGrrrl)

4 cans black eyed peas
2 pieces of chopped up bacon
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno (take the seeds out to cut the spice)
1 large smoked ham hock
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1-2 cups water
Cooked white rice

Saute 2 pieces of chopped up bacon.  Use the bacon drippings to saute a large onion, garlic, and a jalapeno. Then add big smoked ham hock, 4 cans of black eye peas, a tsp each of thyme, parsley and oregano.  Add just enough water to make it soupy, about 2 cups.
Let it simmer for at least an hour, but the longer the better.  At a certain point, take the ham hock out and let it cool and chop up the ham and stir it back in.
Serve over white rice.
*Amy's notes: I use a can of chilies in place of the jalapenos and cubed ham steak in place of the ham hock.  I also stir 3-4 servings of white rice directly into the peas before serving.

Past Reviews:
1/2/11 ~ Oh man, oh man, oh man. This was wonderful! I made very few changes to the recipe, because it was the first time I've ever attempted Hoppin' John. Although I live in the South (transplant though I may be), I am sad to admit that I'd never even heard of Hoppin' John until last New Year's. My family had always done black-eyed peas and ham for luck on NYD, but dh hates black-eyed peas with a passion. He says they smell like stinky feet and taste about as good as they smell. :) He eats one bite, just for me, every year, but he detests even that much. After my boss described Hoppin' John to me last year, I decided to give it a shot, just to see if I could find a way of making them that dh could tolerate. He actually enjoyed this. For one thing, canned peas don't have that "dirt" flavor to them that fresh do, and he definitely liked that aspect of this recipe. That's why I chose this one in particular. That and the fact that I didn't want to slave away all day on some big fancy pea recipe, just to have him turn his nose up at it, lol.
We all loved this. The only big change I made was to use an 7-oz can of chilies instead of the jalapeno. My kids aren't much on spice, so this was the right decision for us. At the end, I just put 2 servings of white rice directly into the peas. I also used an extra hamhock, with the hopes that I might get some more meat off of it. Instead, I have come to the conclusion that unless you get a much better hock than I did, there is very little usable meat on it. I'm grossed out by eating the fat or skin off of it, so after sawing on those hocks for ages in search of meat, I eventually chunked them. However, I adore the smoky flavor that the ham hocks give it. I've decided that next year, I'll put the one ham hock in there, add chopped ham, and then just let someone's dog have the hock when we're done. Other than that, I am SOLD on this sucker! :)
I served it with Sweet Corn Cake, which gave the perfect mix of sweet and spicy.

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