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Sides

Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John
Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

As a cook who is rarely happier than when roasting a huge joint of meat, I tend to measure out my year in holiday feasts, the same meals every year. Christmas dinner means goose; New Year's Eve, rib roast and ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 5 to 6 cups water
  • 1 cup small dried peas, such as cowpeas or black-eyes
  • 1 generous tablespoon sambal oelek or Sriracha sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice

Step 1In a large saucepan, combine the ham hock and water and bring to a boil. Skim any foam, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 2Wash and sort the peas. Add them to the saucepan and discard any peas that float. Stir in the sambal oelek, onion, celery, bay leaves and thyme, and simmer uncovered, until tender but not mushy, 1 to 1½ hours. There should be 2 cups of liquid remaining (add more water, if needed, to make up the difference).

Step 3Remove the ham hock, shred the meat and stir the meat back in with the beans, along with the rice. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, never lifting the lid.

Step 4Remove from the heat and set the pan aside so the food will steam, still covered, for 10 more minutes. Remove the cover, fluff with a fork, and serve immediately.

Note: Adapted from John Martin Taylor's "Hoppin' John's Low Country Cooking." The flavor is much improved when I use the pricey Carolina Gold rice from Anson Mills. Their red peas make a difference too, but not as pronounced.

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