It's really excellent when you can begin a new year by not working for a couple of days, although it is a rude shock to come back to the office. Today I've been writing a brief for a big mediation later in the week, answering e-mails and generally re-acclimating myself. It was a lovely three-day weekend, but now it's time to pay the proverbial piper.
I rarely talk about work here because 1) much of what I do is confidential and 2) I work in a very low-drama office considering that we're a group of litigators. I work with nice people who do their work ethically and generally try to rebut what most people think of lawyers.
But anyway...the three-day weekend meant lots of cooking, including one of my favorite New Year's traditions, Hoppin' John. I'll give a shout-out to Ramona over at Curry and Comfort, because she's the only other blogger I saw posting about this traditional Southern dish--hers is a fantastic-looking version flavored with and colored by curry. It looks absolutely delicious, and it's a great take on the original dish.
Black-eyed peas are eaten on New Year's Day for good luck, and this dish marries them with long-grain white rice in a way that mimics the traditional Monday dish of New Orleans, red beans and rice. Although the black-eyed peas are typically cooked with a ham hock, I have substituted a spicy chicken sausage that keeps the dish pork-free while still being in the same spirit as the original.
New Year's Day Hoppin' John
Inspired by a Recipe from epicurious.com
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 lb. chicken link sausage, casing removed and coarsely chopped
2 peperoncini peppers, crushed
1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, washed and picked over
1 cup long-grain white rice or jasmine rice
3 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan, combine the water, stock, bay leaves and black-eyed peas. If any peas float to the top, discard them. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so the peas simmer.
After the peas are on, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the olive oil and allow it to warm before adding the chicken sausage and onion. Fry the onion and chicken sausage until they are lightly browned. Add the onion-sausage combination to the pot with the black-eyed peas.
Using the same skillet, lightly brown the bell peppers. When they are soft, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the contents of this skillet to the pot with the black-eyed peas.
Once the rice is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for another ten minutes. Just before serving, fluff the mixture with a fork.
Serves 6. We served it with a green salad and popovers--the popovers weren't a perfect match, but David was craving them since we didn't have them at Chrismukkah.