Monday, December 31, 2007

On My Hearth: Hoppin John

I was searching for a good, easy Hoppin John recipe for New Years, this one from Suite 101 looks perfect!

This traditional New Year's good luck dish of black eyed peas, greens and rice is easy to make in a slow cooker.

Making Hoppin John for New Year's in a slow cooker is a great way to ensure the year starts out with luck, and that you take care of tradition without slaving over a stove. To make certain you have a lucky and prosperous new year, black eyed peas are supposed to be the first meal consumed on New Year's Day. Unless you want to eat spicy beans and rice for breakfast, have a bowl of this dish just after the ball drops at midnight on New Year's Eve. Champagne is an awfully good accompaniment.
Hoppin John is beans, specifically black eyed peas, and rice made with a smoked ham hock and collard greens. The beans symbolize coins and the collard greens dollars, which contributes to the prosperous part of this tradition. Many people have altered the tradition to simply serving black eyed peas on New Year's Day, which if you're having a New Year's Eve party, might be a bit easier. Either way, it’s a tasty nutritious meal even for the non-superstitious.

A vegetarian version could be made by omitting the pork and substituting sautéed Portobello mushrooms and a bit of hot sauce for flavoring depth. If you want meat but don't have a ham hock handy, lightly fry chopped bacon pieces, drain and add to the pot instead.

This recipe makes good use of your crock pot, which is exactly the kind of help a holiday chef needs. It is, after all, a holiday for you too. Happy New Year.

Hoppin John
(or Black Eyed Peas and Rice)

1 cup dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 medium onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 smoked ham hock
2 bundles of fresh collard greens, washed and chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 14-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, drained
5 cups of water (or as much needed to cover other ingredients)
1 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked
Salt and pepper

Put the peas in a stock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer one hour. Drain. If using bacon in place of ham hock, fry the pieces first and drain on paper towels to remove excess fat. Dissolve bouillon cube in a small amount of hot water and mix well. Place all ingredients in slow cooker, except rice, and turn to high for five hours. Stir in rice and cook one more hour. Alternatively, rice can be cooked separately and served with peas. Remove meat from bone and return meat only to pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with corn bread.

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