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Saturday, January 1

Happy New Year!!!

Well, 2011 is upon us, and we all want to start it right, don't we?  We make our resolutions...we clean our houses...all sorts of things are traditional for most of us.  Well, there is one other tradition that seems to stand the test of time...Hoppin' John!!  Yes, according to most folklore, eating Hoppin' John on New Years day starts our year off with good luck.  And I have to say it...with the way things have been over the last couple of years, we ALL can use a solid shot of good luck, can't we?

Hoppin' John is a combination of black-eyed peas and rice.  It's VERY simple to make, and is extremely satisfying to eat.  Typically, it's served with some type of greens (collard, turnip, mustard, mixed), which have a traditional meaning of their own...they represent MONEY (YAY) coming into your home.  So, is everyone ready to bring in the New Year with some old-fashioned tradition?

For this, I recommend using a 6 quart stockpot.  

HOPPIN' JOHN

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large ham hock (or cuts of smoked ham)
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped fine
1 pound black-eyed peas (I use dry beans...prep recipe will be posted)
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon crushed thyme
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions (optional)
3 cups cooked white rice

To prepare dry beans:
Rinse and sort dry beans.  Place in stockpot, cover with plenty of water (at least 2 inches), and bring to a hard boil.  Turn off, and let stand for about 2 hours.  Drain, and set aside.

In same stockpot, heat oil, and brown the ham hock (or other smoked ham chunks).  Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook until all veggies are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for about 40-50 minutes, or until peas are very tender (if it seems too dry, simply add some extra stock), stirring occasionally.

While the peas are simmering, make your rice.  In another large pot, bring several cups of water to a boil.  Add 1 1/2 cups DRY rice, and boil until JUST tender (about 12 minutes).  Drain well in a sturdy colander (one that handles heat well).  Put about 1-2 inches of water back in the same pot, and bring that back to a boil.  Place the colander of rice over the boiling water and cover with a lid...let steam for about 5 minutes, occasionally fluffing the rice with a fork.

Serve peas over rice, and garnish with finely chopped green onion, if desired.  Makes about 6 servings.

Hope this traditional meal brings you all the luck in the world.  ENJOY!!!

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