Emily's Family Hoppin' Johns and Collards

Hoppin' Johns and Collard Greens, Emily's Way

Hoppin' Johns and Collard Greens

There is one real tradition in my family, and that is Hoppin' Johns and Collard Greens on New Year's Day.

We might skip out on the holiday gatherings, but my dad  and I always text a photo of our New Year's Day deast.

If you're not aware, eating these Southern foods is the only way to attain luck and money in the year ahead. You know, the only for sure way.

Now you know why I am so rich and lucky!

Here's how I do it. I am not a chef nor a recipe writer, but just know you can't really mess it up as long as nothing is smoking or flaming -- or undercooked. It's comfort food of the highest order.

This dish is meant to be cooked in the rhythm of a home kitchen, so I'm always chopping one thing while I'm cooking the thing before it. It's a recipe with good flow in my opinion.

INGREDIENTS

For the Rice:

-A couple of cups of rice, depending on how many people you're serving and how much leftovers you want. I use white rice. Maybe try Carolina Gold Rice, which is grown in  North Carolina.

For the Collards:

-olive oil

-1 red onion, chopped

-2 bunches collard greens, chopped (this is a frustrating measure because they can be different sizes -- be prepared to eyeball your recipe depending).  I remove the bottom third of the stems

-2-3 strips bacon, chopped. I'm going to use Benton's Bacon, but you can also use sausage or tempeh

-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

-2 teaspoons cumin

-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

-3 cloves garlic, chopped

For the Black-Eyed Peas:

 -3-4 strips bacon

-1 yellow onion

-1 red pepper

-2 cans black-eyed peas -- you can also use fresh, but I really like the consistency of the canned ones. Weird, I know. Our canned beans are BPA free. If you are using fresh black-eyed peas, boil them for 5 minutes and then let soak for about an hour -- or soak overnight.

-2 tablespoons tomato paste

-salt and pepper to taste

-hot sauce to garnish

-sour cream to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

I make this dish using a skillet and two stock pots.

First, I get the rice going. I'm a "boil it dry" kind of person, so I use about twice as much water as rice with a heaping soon of salt, let it boil, turn it off, cover it and leave it on the burner and forget it til it's done. My rice pot sits on the back burner while I cook the rest.

I add the 2-3 strips bacon to a cold stock pot and turn it on medium heat.

When the bacon fat is hot and liquid, I add the red onion, cook it til it softens, and turn the burner on low.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet and get it warm on medium heat.

In the skillet is hot, I flash fry the collards in olive oil. I fill the skillet, but I don't crowd it. I sautee the collards until the waxy coating starts to break down. When the collards have shrunk to half the original size, I transfer them to the stock pot with the red onion.

I rinse out the pan with a splash of apple cider vinegar and add that to the stock pot, too.

Then, I add another glug of oil to the skillet and repeat the process with another batch of collards. 

If your pan is too hot, be sure to let it cool down between batches so you don't pour cold oil into a very hot pan.

Once all the collards have been flash fried and transferred to the stock pot, add the cumin, red pepper and garlic. Give it a stir. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar or water -- or broth or orange juice if you're feeling crazy.

Cover the stock pot of collards, leave it on low and forget about it for awhile, probably half an hour.

In the skillet, add the rest of your chopped bacon and get it warm. When the fat has liquified, add the yellow onion and sauté for a minute or two. Add the red pepper and sauté for a few more minutes until the veggies are cooked through but still crunchy.

Add the black-eyed peas to the veggies and stir.

Stir in the tomato paste.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and let cook through.

Cook together for a few minutes.

Now, cooks are divided on whether the black eyed peas and rice should be mixed or layered. I prefer layered.

I add a layer of rice to the plate, top with a heaping spoonful of black-eyed peas and garnish with sour cream and hot sauce.

I serve the collards alongside.

There are a million ways to cook this dish, so swap ingredients and find your family recipe! I love our version. Sometimes I cook it in the summer just for fun.

Happy New Year! Wishing you luck, money and good food!