Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Flavor: Spicy Hoppin John and Greens

New Year's Day Spicy Hoppin John

After living in Florida for 15 years, I have learned the ways of southern cooks by trial and error:  use lots of butter and sugar; when in doubt - fry; slow simmer for hours. I droll over many of the specialty dishes (read about my Caramel Cake attempt) but I'm afraid southern vegetables remain aloof. Haven't acquired a taste for the mushy concoctions.

One of the New Year's Day traditions that has crept into my lifestyle is eating black-eye peas for good luck and greens for money. Come on, who doesn't desire luck and prosperity in heaping quantities? Therefore, I prepare and serve the dishes in a way my family will tolerate- mind you, they aren't big on anything green. 

Hoppin John is a mixture of black-eyed peas and rice with chopped onion and sliced bacon. Some people substitute ham hocks for the bacon and others add green peppers or vinegar, but I spice it up. (Seems I am doing a lot of that since I took that trip to New Mexico last fall.)  I added a bevy of colorful orange, yellow and red peppers, a fresh Jalapeno pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and a bit of cumin. The kitchen teemed with the fabulous aroma of caramelized onion and spices. I also switched to turkey sausage in place of bacon.

Just before serving I sauteed turnip greens in olive oil and mined garlic- more like a Japanese stir-fry than the genteel Southern method. Sorry Popeye, my veggies were served a crispy Wizard of Oz emerald green. 

Below is my version of   
Spicy Hoppin John:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops sliced
1 small Jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup mixed red, yellow or orange peppers
1/2 pound Italian Turkey Sausage- the large links --   later cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes Mexican flavored - slightly drained
1 container fresh black-eyed peas (the kind that requires just 10 minutes of boiling or a 10-ounce package frozen black-eyed pea, cooked
1 1/2-2 cups cooked  long-grain rice

1 teaspoon cumin (or more)
Chicken or beef broth or homemade stock

1.   If not already cooked, boil the rice and black-eye peas.

2.  In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, scallion bulbs and peppers; cook and stir occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and tomatoes and cook approximately 10 minutes longer.

3.  Remove the sausage and cut crosswise into 1-inch or bite sized pieces. 

4.  Combine all  by adding the black-eyed peas, rice and sausage into the onions and peppers. Stir in the cumin and add additional broth --as needed to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the sausage is done.

5. Before serving add green onion slices on top.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.


Arrows Sent Forth said...

I always see the black eyed peas in the grocery store at New Year's and wonder what to do with them. I'll have to give this a try!

wandering educators said...

i LOVE hoppin john! i couldn't find fresh black eyed peas up here in the north - your recipe looks delicious!

Jen said...

I am with you on the greens. I have lived in the South for 15 years myself, and still don't do greens...turnip, collard, or any other kind! I only just recently started eating okra and it has to be fried beyond recognition!