Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hoppin' John

I love Hoppin' John. No, it's not the name of a character actor from Gunsmoke. If you are a southerner, you know it as that lucky to eat on New Year's Day plate of deliciousness made with rice and black eyed peas.

I like it all the time - thus expanding my luck exponentially! I don't make it the exact same way every time as how it ends up depends on what is in my pantry and fridge. Today's version was the "convenient" way. Here's what I assembled before, yes I assemble everything before cooking. I chop and measure too everything ahead of time too, if I am measuring things. Sometimes I just use the look, smell, and taste method of measuring. Onions and garlic actually undergo a chemical alteration from having their lovely insides exposed to air that adds to the healthy aspects, see World's Healthiest Foods for a great article about what happens to garlic when it sits a bit after being cut.

Today's Hoppin' John was made from... 

1 T pure olive oil (not extra virgin because it is to be heated - use Pure Olive Oil)
1/2 an onion, chopped (see link above about exposing to air as they are the same as garlic)
3 jalapenos, split, deseeded, cut into ribbons and then diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped (see link above about exposing to air)
1 T chili powder - this time I used a blend made by Gebhardt as they do a pretty darn good blend and I didn't feel like measuring a bunch of powders
2 t dried cumin
fresh cracked black pepper - a bunch
1 t dried thyme
1 package of pecan smoked beef sausage cut into chunks
2 cans black eyed peas with snaps - rinse the crud out of them well (see this post for why)
1 can chopped tomatoes with green chilis (get Eden brand so you don't have to rinse tomatoes which would ruin the things)
some low sodium organic beef stock - I am going to guess somewhere between a cup or two
Brown rice cooked separately

Cooking is a cinch using these ingredients - Get a big pot with a lid. Heat the pot over medium heat and then add the olive oil and chopped onions. Saute for a bit before adding the jalapeno and garlic - saute for one more minute. Then add all the seasonings and stir for another minute - I like to do this because I am totally convinced it helps to blend and "finish" the flavors of the spices.

Then, dump in all the other stuff except the stock and stir. Add enough stock so that it will simmer but not be soupy. Best to under guess the amount and add more later if it looks dry - which it should not be at all. There needs to be a sort of stew like consistency when it's done.

Bring the stuff to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Serve over hot brown rice.

Here's some changes you could make:

You might not be a spicy person and would want to not add the jalapenos. Or you might think, well, that's not very spicy at all - if you think that, add any super hot chili pepper you want.

You might like more onion, I actually do, but my son was home and he is not an onion fan, odd though that may be.

You might think - tomatoes! Blech! Well, just use stock - veggie, chicken, or beef as you prefer.

You might prefer bacon to sausage, or you may be a vegetarian (Hi, Janette!) and will totally not use that nasty old meat nor will you use beef broth - so add whatever you like to use instead of meaty things and use veggie stock instead.

Try a mix of different chili powders - like ancho and chipotle (my personal fave is 3 x more ancho to chipotle). Experiment as they all taste different and the only way to find out what you like is to try it. If you use cayenne, do be very very careful and judicious at first.

You might also think - BPA??? Dried beans for me! That's fine, just prep the beans before doing the other stuff.

Sometimes I add some chopped sweet red pepper too just because I like sweet red pepper.

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