Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Hoppin' John, Three-By-Three

      We had Hoppin' John last night, with three different kinds of meat, three kinds of peppers and three additional fresh vegetables.

      It starts with a large "Irish banger" sausage, a hot Italian sausage and a small ham steak.  Squeeze the sausage out of the casings, brown and crumble, adding cubed ham shortly before it is done. A little Cajun seasoning would not be out of line.  Then drain the fat and push the meat to the perimeter of the pan.*

      Next, add a small onion (I used a nice red onion), diced, and while it cooks, dice a carrot or two and a couple of stalks of celery, and add them.  Stir that around and dice a large green pepper. and add it.  Cook until the vegetables get colorful and slightly translucent.

      At that point, stir everything together and add a small can of green chilis, a 14 oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes (liquid and all), and a can of blackeyed peas, partially drained.  The trick here is to drain the beans into the empty tomato can, stir the beans into the pan, and then add enough bean liquid to get a stew-like consistency, or thinner if you prefer.  I had used "no salt added" tomatoes, which gets around worries about the beans being too salty.

      Season with Cajun seasoning, parsley flakes, basil, a little cilantro if you like it,† a little garlic powder (you could use fresh garlic, starting way back with the onion) and a bay leaf or two.  I snipped in short sections of pickled piparra peppers.  Give it another stir, cover and let it simmer over low heat for at least ten minutes.  Up to a half-hour, it just gets better, but keep an eye on it.

      I had mine over white rice; Tam ate hers plain.  I don't know how authentic is it but it's tasty and warm on a cold evening.
* I use a big stew pot.  A wok would do if you have a lid for it, or a deep skillet with a lid.  I suspect this stuff would be even better cooked in cast-iron over a wood or lump-charcoal fire. 
† Do not experiment with cilantro -- it tastes strongly soapy to some people.  This is genetic; it's not an acquired taste.  Either you like it or it's awful, and that's not going to change.  So check first.

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