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Hoppin’ John (Black-eyed Peas)

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Black-eyed peas with smoked pork and rice is a traditional New Year’s dish in the South, and, as Wikipedia tells me, throughout the Carribbean also. It’s said to bring good luck in the coming year.

Flouting recipes we’ve read, we do not cook the rice with the beans. The cooking times of rice and beans are incompatible, and if you don’t want mush rice (or pebble beans), it’s neater to cook them separately and plate individual composites. This makes starch control easier too; I can get just a taste of rice with my pork and beans if I choose.

It’s not strictly necessary to soak dry black-eyed peas overnight, but we do it routinely. Soaking any kind of whole seed wakes up the life force and makes it more nourishing. Soaking and rinsing beans washes away potentially toxic compounds.

This latter reasoning is less new-agey than the former; our friend landed in the hospital after making a habit of cooking unsoaked, unrinsed beans. He very nearly died. Please soak and rinse all dry beans! (Do I need to mention that this does not apply to canned beans?)

Hopping John
The recipe

2 cups black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed thoroughly
8 to 16 ounces smoked pork jowl, cut in 1/2″ to 1″ chunks
1 t0 2 tablespoons bacon fat (reserved from cooking bacon) or any oil or fat you choose
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery (plus half the leaves from the core of the celery, if you have them), sliced
2 cups stock, heated
2 cups water, heated
1 teaspoon salt

Heat fat in a Dutch oven or any heavy pot or saucepan of at least three quarts capacity. Over medium heat, cook onions and celery until softened. Add pork jowl and cook together for a few minutes.

Add the beans. Add the hot stock and hot water. Add the salt. Simmer over low heat for about one hour, or until the beans are soft.

Serve over rice.

 

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