Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hoppin' John (Black Eyed Peas)

Hoppin' John is a cheap, delicious, and pretty nutritious one-pot dinner- a great way to enjoy your New Year's day black eyed peas.  (Or on any day for that matter)  The addition of bacon adds some savory smoky flavor, and the red pepper flakes give it a nice kick of heat.  Black eyed peas don't take as long to cook as dry beans, and you should check them often to avoid over-cooking... as I learned from experience.  This is a hearty & warm winter dinner, but could also be eaten as a side dish with something like pork tenderloin.  The recipe came from Michael Ruhlman's website.
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large onions, one peeled and quartered, one medium diced
  • 2 carrots, cut in half
  • 4 bay leaves
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips (preferably slab bacon)
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or more if you like it really hot)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained

In a large pot, combine the rinsed black eyed peas with the quartered onion, carrots, and three bay leaves with 1 teaspoon salt Add the chicken broth and then enough water to cover the beans and vegetables by about 3 inches.  This was a great opportunity to use our new ladle which has a built in measuring cup.  It was great for adding the chicken stock.

Put the pot over high heat, bring it to a simmer, then turn the burner to medium low and continue to cook until the beans are tender, 60 to 90 minutes.  (As a note, mine simmered for about 60 minutes and they were a bit over-cooked.  So test them earlier just in case).  Add 1 more teaspoon of salt midway through the cooking.  Reserve 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid. Strain the peas, picking out and discarding the onion, carrots and bay leaves.  Pour the peas back into the pot until ready to add to the rest of the dish but keep off the heat.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned. 
Add the medium diced onion, chopped garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook until the onion is softened and translucent and beginning to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. 

Add the cumin, pepper flakes, and black pepper, turn the burner to medium, and stir to combine the seasonings with the onion. Add the juice from the tomatoes. Then add the whole tomatoes, crushing them in your hands as they go into the pot. Add the last bay leaf. Bring this to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so to reduce and thicken the sauce. 
Next, stir in the black eyed peas and heat through.  Add some or all of the reserved cooking liquid if the mixture looks a little dry.  Taste for more salt and/or pepper.  Serve hot and enjoy! 

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