Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hoppin' John

This one's for the impecunious grad students needing a fix of filling victuals to fuel late nights and early mornings with seminar papers and dissertation chapters and stacks of student essays. I've been there, brothers and sisters. I know that you need Hoppin' John. Read this, cook this, eat this. Then stop futzing around reading blogs and get back to work.

Black-eyed peas
Caramelized onions
4 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/2 in. strips
Long grain white rice
Green onions and parsley for garnish

I didn't measure anything. The bacon, I suppose, measured itself.

Hoppin' John is properly prepared with a smoked ham hock or two. I wanted some and didn't have a hock to my name so I improv'd with some good applewood bacon and I wasn't sorry.

Don't believe anyone who tells you to presoak your beans (peas) or to cook them without salt. They don't speak the truth. Black-eyed peas cook quickly, perhaps in less than an hour. But cooking times are imprecise in bean cookery because the moisture content of beans is variable. Old, dry beans take longer to cook than young, moist beans. And no, I don't think there's a good way to tell the age of beans that you didn't harvest yourself.

Put some beans (peas) in the bottom of a heavy pot or pan and cover with water by a few inches. Bring to a boil, salt well, and reduce to simmer. Meanwhile, heat up a cup or two of water in a small saucepan and simmer the bacon in it for five or ten minutes. This will draw out some of the fat and mellow the strong smokey flavor. Fish the bacon out and toss it with the beans, cover them, then lower the heat on the beans to simmer or, better yet, put the pot in a slow oven (275 is probably too high but that's where I set mine). Cook until the beans are done.

Now the caramelized onions I had left over from when I made myself some bratwurst for lunch the other day. See? That's them next to the radioactive sauerkraut. If you don't happen to have these on hand, you can just fry some up in oil and toss them in.

Add rice and onions, bring back to the boil, then cover again and put the pot back in the oven until the rice is cooked. Check after twenty minutes and if it looks very dry, add more water. If it looks very wet, simmer uncovered until you have your desired texture. (I would guess I added about a cup and a half of rice.) Let the Hoppin' John cool down a bit before you eat it. I made it beginning at 8:30 am and it was done by about 10:45. I ate it at 11:45, warm but not hot. It was a little on the mushy side, which is just how I like it.

Season with lots of pepper and however much more salt you think it needs (careful here: bacon can be salty) and garnish with sliced green onion and chopped parsley.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very much in favor of the green onion with hoppin john. ....or practically any of the rice and beans classics. A little hot sauce on the side to add yourself is nice too.

I've been reading your blog and I like what I'm reading.

I'll be back.

3:57 PM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

hey, it's lindy! i feel like i missed something, haverchuk, you are already on lindy's blogroll. so did you guys know each other before, or did i really introduce you? i don't know why it's so important to me to be a social facilitator, but it is.

as for the hoppin john, looks good. and i think we'll be adding the hot sauce too. black eyed peas are supposed to be a new years thing, right? so maybe we'll do this soon. could add strong greens? or serve them with?


4:39 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

zp, you are the matchmaker. If you put your mind to it you could be the Cher Horowitz of the blogs.

Yes, Hoppin' John is New Year's Day tradition in the South, I'm told. Brings good luck. But I'm from Canada so what do I know?

5:21 PM  

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