January 3, 2015

Hoppin' John

2015. Finally. FINALLY. I couldn't wait to get through the holidays, for the past year to end. I was ready for a fresh start. And, so far, the new year hasn't disappointed. 

After 3 months of heartache, depression, anxiety & anger, December ended up being a pretty great month. I started dating a new guy. Nick is simply amazing...kind, funny, understanding, generous, handsome, and dead sexy. See?

I'm a goon, but he's cute.
And another...because WE are cute together.

I'm seriously smitten with him. Like whoa. 

We spent Christmas evening and New Year's together. We ate caviar with champagne and had a shrimp boil for Christmas, we had charcuterie and more champagne for New Year's Eve, and I made Hoppin' John for dinner last night. I love cooking for him. He loves hanging out in the kitchen with me. 

Did I mention that I'm smitten? Seriously.

Anyway...I'd been wanting to make a recipe from Chef Sean Brock's beautiful new cookbook Heritage ever since I met him in October at a book signing/tasting dinner in St. Louis. I've said it before: He is just so damn adorable. See?

There's that silly fangirl look again.

I figured this recipe, the first in the book, was the perfect way to begin my new year...one that promises to be full of love, fun, adventure, and hope.

Lowcountry Hoppin' John
slightly adapted from Sean Brock's Heritage

For the beans:
2 quarts pork or chicken stock
1 cup dried black-eyed peas or red beans (I used Bob's Red Mill Cranberry Beans) *
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
1 jalapeƱo, seeded & chopped
Kosher salt

For the rice:
4 cups water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup long-grain white rice *
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

For the gravy:
Reserved 1 cup cooked beans
Reserved 2 cups bean cooking liquid
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Sliced chives or scallions, for garnish

* Brock suggests Anson Mills Sea Island Red Peas and Carolina Gold Rice, heirloom products that are quintessential to Hoppin' John, which he says "lies at the soul of the Lowcountry--a metaphor of its history and culture."

The recipe calls for cooking the beans, after soaking overnight, on the stove for an hour. Instead, I used a pressure cooker to cook them in about 30 minutes.
  • To make the beans: Add all ingredients to a pressure cooker. Bring to pressure & cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Release the steam. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Measure out 1 cup of beans and 2 cups of liquid for the gravy. Return the rest of the beans and liquid to the pot and keep warm.
  • To make the rice: Preheat the oven to 300. Bring the water, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce to the heat to medium, add the rice, stir once, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, abut 15 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse under cold water. Spread the rice on a rimmed baking sheet (I suggest using a silicone mat on the sheet to prevent the rice from sticking). Dry the rice in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Scatter the butter evenly over the rice and continue to dry it, stirring every few minutes, for about 5 more minutes. All excess moisture should have evaporated and the grains should be dry and separate. 
I would make double this amount of rice. I had much more beans than rice.
  • To make the gravy: Put the reserved 1 cup of beans, 2 cups of cooking liquid, butter, and cider vinegar in a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  • To serve: Put some rice on a plate. Using a slotted spoon, top the rice with some of the beans. Pour over the gravy. Sprinkle with chives or scallions.
I'm happy to be cooking and blogging again. Here's to a great year! :-)

No comments: