Hoppin’ John: the real deal

I’ve had the ingredients for awhile now, waiting for a special occasion to use them. Our friend Parker was visiting so we planned for a gathering of friends and a potluck to celebrate. We’re all food lovers and tend to bring out our A-game when it comes to potlucks. So the heritage Carolina Gold Rice and Sea Island Red Peas would finally be put to good use.

Such a simple dish with only 3 main ingredients: rice, cowpeas and vegetables, requires that the quality of the ingredients be exceptional. The original recipe calls for heritage crops grown in the south that were selected first and foremost for flavor: Carolina Gold Rice, Sea Island Red Peas and pork stock.

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I’ve been hoarding the ingredients in the freezer for months, waiting for a special occasion. The grits are not part of a Hoppin John dish, but I made them on the side just because.

Sean Brock’s cookbook, Heritage has the recipe which I pretty much followed to the tee, which is unusual for me. Now that I’ve done it once, I’ll probably modify in the future.  You can buy the ingredients through Anson Mills, or better yet grow your own! We grew the peas (a cowpea, or field pea, Vigna unguiculata) last summer and they were super easy, as are most field peas in the south.

What’s great is that growing field peas enriches the earth, because of their magic powers that add nitrogen to the soil, along with mounds of biomass. This makes rice cultivation more sustainable.

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Drizzled with gravy made from left over broth and peas, and garnished with garlic chives.

We are fortunate to have a CSA, so the veggies were mostly super fresh and juicy, lending more flavor and awesomeness to the dish.

There was broth left over from cooking down the peas and veggies, which of course I saved. It’s fricking cold here in North Florida this winter, so soups are on the menu constantly.

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Left over broth from cooking the peas and veggies to be used later for a hearty soup.

I’ll post the actual recipe here soon…need to figure out if there are any copyright issues 🙂

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