Thursday, December 30, 2010

Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya - Deep South Hoppin' John

Our Deep South version of the lowcountry favorite, Hoppin' John, this Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya contains bacon, ham, spicy smoked sausage, black-eyed peas and rice.
Our Deep South version of the lowcountry favorite, Hoppin' John, this Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya contains bacon, ham, spicy smoked sausage, black-eyed peas and rice.

Deep South Hoppin' John

Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya is just the way we down here in The Deep South look at what most other southerners call Hoppin' John, but let me tell you. I have seen lots of folks, from magazines to big bloggers, being scolded by Hoppin' John purists all around the internet here lately for incorrectly referring to a dish of black-eyed peas as Hoppin' John, because the newer trend lately seems to be serving black-eyed peas over rice and calling it Hoppin' John.

As always, just scroll down the page a bit past the chit-chat to get right to the recipe and a printable, otherwise...

{Southern Hissy fit warning} People get all up in arms about impressing upon others what they think is or is not right or authentic when it comes to food. I have gotten more than one tongue lashing right here on my site from some anonymous persons who insisted on imposing their opinions about how I have made something "wrong" in their eyes.

Now, don't get me wrong... I have a lot of respect for regional dishes - and that is why I don't use the word "authentic" when I make a dish that is endeared to a certain area of the country from whence I am not.

I understand the passion though.

Even I can get a little stuffy about certain things - like po'boys being all fancied up with artisan breads and sauces, when they are intended to be a simple, working man (or woman's) basic sandwich, Mississippi Comeback Sauce that has a history that deserves more respect than to be referred to as simply mixed up mayo and ketchup with a bunch of pepper, dirty rice that has no "dirty" to it, or jambalaya that is soupy, gummy and mushy - which it should not be, not ever - and, most especially, those folks who live in landlocked areas, talking about seafood. Someone actually put snow crabs in gumbo! No, no, no, no, no.

But... I don't go into somebody else's kitchen (or virtual website kitchen) and criticize them for how they choose to make something. That's just downright rude. By the way, I pretty much feel that same way when y'all scholarly types try to come here and correct my grammar and spelling.

This ain't an English grammar page y'all - just me writing the same way I mostly talk.

Frankly, I just think folks need to learn to relax, enjoy each other's company and quit the bickering to get down the nitty gritty.

{hissy fit done pitched}


Anyway... my personal opinion is that what really defines a dish as Hoppin' John as simply one that includes black-eyed peas, some kind of pork - generally in the form of bacon, sausage and ham - and rice, all cooked together. 

Southern Living, the bible of the south, says "The most important rule in making Hoppin' John is to cook everything together in the same pot until the rice and beans have separated. This enhances the flavor from the beans and meat without having to add a litany of spices." So, there you have it!

Black eyed peas have been around for a long time, of course, and well before we adopted them and made them a New Year's tradition in The South, and there are many versions of how the name "Hopping John" came to be. I like the one that says it was named by Confederate soldiers who observed the way the peas popped up and down in the kettle while they were boiling. "Hehehe, now, lookie thar, how them thar peas er jus' a hoppin' John."  Yeah. I can totally see that!

So, while I often make a pot of black-eye peas and serve it over the rice, in the same manner as our beloved red beans and rice, or butter beans, we also do cook them Hoppin' John style, only, in this part of The Deep South, we generally call that jambalaya.

So here it is, our Deep South version of the lowcountry favorite, Hoppin' John, or what we'll just settle on calling Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya.

Some folks are gonna say "I've been living in the south all my life, and I've never seen peas in jambalaya!" Well, yeah, neither have I. At least not in a chicken or seafood jambalaya. But... they are missing the point. This is not your standard seafood or chicken jambalaya - with black-eyed peas. This is a black-eyed pea jambalaya! There is a difference, you see. Black-eyed peas are central here in this jambalaya, along with some smoked meats - but no seafood or chicken.

While my preference for the new year is black-eyed peas spooned over steaming hot rice, I gotta say... this jambalaya is pretty darned good.

It's not at all difficult to make either. Grab your cast iron Dutch oven - those cook more evenly for this dish - and we'll start with some bacon. That's a pretty good start if ya ask me. Then we'll sweat down The Trinity.


Once the veggies are sauteed down nicely, we'll add in, well... even more pork! Here I used Conecuh, an Alabama smoked sausage, and some diced baked ham.  Yes, we love our Louisiana sausage, but Alabama makes some pretty darned good sausage too. We are so lucky to live here slap dab between the both of them, I swear. After that cooks down a few minutes, stir in the chicken broth and 2 cans of undrained black-eyed peas, and let it come up to a boil.


Add in the raw rice, jalapeno, green onion and seasonings, return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes. I mostly prefer doing my jambalayas in the oven, but this one works pretty good on the top of the stove since we're just using sausage and canned peas. Pull it off the heat and set it aside covered, for about 10 minutes undisturbed.


As with all jambalaya recipes, this makes a nice sized pot and will probably feed somewhere around 8 people as a main dish, or quite a few more as an addition on a party buffet - like for that New Year's party.


My last two recipe posts ran close together, so in case ya missed it, be sure to pop over and check out my Greens and Black-eyed Pea Soup that I posted late yesterday. It's a big bowl of warmth I'm telling ya, and would also be a great addition to your New Year's menu.



Posted by on December 30, 2010
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