By Jasen Morin
A little history about Hoppin’ John, via Wikipedia:
“In the southern United States, eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale, cabbage etc. along with this dish are supposed to also add to the wealth since they are the color of American currency. Another traditional food, cornbread, can also be served to represent wealth, being the color of gold. On the day after New Year’s Day, leftover “Hoppin’ John” is called “Skippin’ Jenny,” and further demonstrates one’s frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.”
There have been some requests for the recipe that I made for this competition, and I am happy to share it!! Mind you I made two gallons of beans and about the same amount of rice, so I will try to scale down the recipe to a more reasonable quantity. And FYI, in my case there was no chance of Skippin’ Jenny… all of my Hoppin’ John was devoured in less than an hour, even though I made more than twice the recommended six quarts. So, without further delay:
Mushroom Hoppin’ John Recipe (Vegetarian)
Servings: 4 ( with maybe a little skippin’ Jenny)
1 large Leek
3 cups of assorted diced peppers (I used jalapenos, poblanos, anaheims, red and green bell peppers, and mini sweets. You could choose just one, but I think the variety really added depth to the dish)
3 cups of diced mushrooms (I used king oyster mushrooms, shiitakes, and portobellos)
1 large sweet onion, diced (I used vidalia onion)
More garlic than you think you need, chopped (I put about two cups of garlic into my dish)
1 cup of dried Black Eyed Peas, soaked overnight or 3 cups of canned
Enough veggie stock to cook the beans and rice (Either make your own or use Knorr veggie bouillon cube stock)
1 cup of your favorite kind of rice (I used brown Jasmine rice)
1 bulb of fennel
1 can of sweet corn, or 1 cup of fresh corn, steamed and cut off of the cob
1 cup of corn meal
Plenty of smoked cheddar (I would have chosen Vermont cheddar, but I couldn’t find any down here…boo!!!)
Fresh parsley, oregano, and basil
Wash and slice the leek and fennel and caramelize them separately (slow and low heat until brown and sweet), set aside.
Sautee the mushrooms, onions, peppers and garlic, set aside.
Boil the black eyed peas in vegetable stock until tender (but not mushy!!), drain and fold in the sauteed shrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, and the caramelized leeks, season with S&P and add most of the chopped fresh herbs.
Prepare the rice using vegetable stock instead of water.
Shred the smoke cheddar and mix with the rest of the herbs. Set aside.
Make your polenta: bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of cornmeal. Simmer for about 15 minutes stirring constantly (or you will scorch your pot!). Fold the corn and caramelized fennel and a huge lob of butter, lay out in a 1″ thick layer on a cookie sheet and cool in the refrigerator. Once cool cut the polenta into cubes and fry in peanut oil until light brown and crispy.
The traditional recipe calls for a “soak time” where the rice and beans are mixed together and sit to combine flavors, but I think that this just makes for overcooked beans and mushy rice, and who wants that?!!
To assemble put the rice in the bottom of a bowl, top with the bean mixture and generously apply the smoked cheddar-herb mixture, top with a fried polenta cube and bask in all that is awesome about this recipe. Decorate with tomatoes and/or chopped leeks.
For Carnivores: If you are interested in the maple cured hog jowl, dice your favorite cut of fatty pork and render the fat until the meat is swimming in grease and crispy, add your favorite grade of Vermont maple syrup and reduce until thick and sticky, let it cool enough so you don’t scorch your tongue and sprinkle liberally on your Hoppin’ John.
I hope that you enjoy eating this as much as I enjoyed cooking it!!! J-Mo
PS: If you make enough, the day after you will be like…