Monday, February 1, 2010

Hopping John

On New Year's Day, you're supposed to have black eye peas and ham. So, Hopping John is a perfect delivery method.

Many years ago (like, 15), I'd tried the Treebeards recipe, but substituted turkey ham instead of regular pork ham, in an attempt to make it healthier. Blech. I had tried it at least twice that I remember and it was a dry mess.

I decided to give the Treebeards recipe another try, still with the turkey ham, this year. I'll be damned if it didn't turn out to be just about the best, least guilt-inducing comfort food ever.

A few things made the difference this time. First, saute the hell out of the veggies/aromatics, using olive oil instead of butter. Go for a deep rich brown carmelization on them, not just softened. Also, add an extra tablespoon or so of the oil to make up for the fat you're losing from the pork ham. Then, take absolutely seriously the "until tender" instruction regarding the beans. I ended up cooking them for a full hour longer, tasting them every 10 minutes. Totally worked. Score.

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