Sometimes the best dishes are the simplest.

This recipe for Hopping John leaves out the cooking of the black eyed peas, though you certainly can do it from scratch if you have dried peas. I’m also leaving out the traditional smoked ham hock, instead using some of the smoked pork skin I saved when smoking bacon. It should add the same flavor profile. Also going to add some swiss chard for color.

Traditionally Hopping John was served on New Years Day as a “good luck” meal with the peas representing pennies. Greens are added to represent paper money, or maybe because they are so darn good?  Use swiss chard, beet greens or spinach. As always the recipe is flexible. Change it up as you want.

Hopping John Ingredients:
1/4 cup (or 4 slices) bacon chopped or use lardons
1 chunk of smoked pork rind
2 cups (or 1 15.5 oz can) cooked black eyed peas
1 sweet red (or orange or yellow, just not green) bell pepper diced
1 bunch of greens rinsed and chopped as needed. The chard is cut off the center stalk.
1/2 onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups broth or water
salt and pepper to taste

Apparently I missed the ingredients shot, sorry it happens.

In a heavy sauce pot over medium-high heat, add the bacon, onion, and peppers.











Cook stirring often until the bacon is renders its fat and vegetables are soft.











Add the cooked peas, the greens, and the pork rind, stir.











Add the broth, stir.











Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 20 minutes until peas are very tender and creamy. Add more broth as needed to keep moist.

Remove pork rind and discard.

Serve over rice.

Jalapeno Corn bread.
This spicy cornbread should be a perfect accompaniment to the Hopping John.

Jalapeno Cornbread Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup nonfat buttermilk (see note below)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded  cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeno peppers
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

NOTE: If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t worry, just put 1 TBS of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring cup, and then filling the cup with milk to the one cup mark. let stand for 5 minutes, then use as buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 375F
Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet (or oven safe cookware)  coated with cooking spray in oven 5 minutes or until heated.

Combine cornmeal, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture.











Combine buttermilk, cheese, jalapenos, butter, honey, oil, and eggs in a small bowl;











Add to cornmeal mixture. Stir just until combined.











Spoon mixture into preheated pan.










Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.










Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut into 12 wedges.










Serve with the Hopping John.










Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener