Hoppin’ John is Health Food

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Windflower Farm‘s CSA season has come to a close. The winter season starts in a couple of weeks, so you can look forward to reports on root vegetables, hard squashes, and dark leafy greens.

In preparation for the slow and low cooking that these vegetables imply, I took the opportunity to place one last order for meat from Lewis Waite Farm, which partnered with my CSA for the first time this year. I worked from home this morning so that I could meet an unmarked van full of meat on a street corner near my house. Given that I already had a serious stockpile from my Carnivore Share, I may have gone a bit overboard.

Freezer Full of Meat

I took the afternoon off to catch up on some reading for school. I’m taking Contemporary Issues in Food Studies this semester and spent most of the weekend writing a paper on Taste, Culture and the Production of Cool. This week, we are shifting gears to examine the systems that create and perpetuate global hunger.

And so I find myself reading about the impact of The Green Revolution–which increased crop yields but came with a serious consequences in terms of individual health, the environment, economic equality and overall food security–while simmering a large pot of Hoppin’John chock full of whole grains, humane meat, organic legumes and locally-sourced vegetables.

It’s enough to make your head spin.

Hoppin’ John with Brown Rice and Kale

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 smoked ham hock or pork shank
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced and rinsed (or an onion)
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers (depending on their heat and your tolerance for heat), minced
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or a sprig of fresh if you have it)
  • 2 bunches lacinato kale or other dark leafy green, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (optional)
  • apple cider vinegar or vinegar-based hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  1. Dump the beans into a bowl, add enough water to cover by a few inches, and soak overnight, or for at least six hours.
  2. Cover the hock or shank with water in a large dutch oven. Add bay leaves and garlic and cook at a slow boil for one hour.
  3. Strain and rinse the black-eyed peas, add them to the pot along with a big pinch of salt and continue your slow boil for another 45-75 minutes until the peas are tender but not mushy.
  4. Transfer the pork shank to a cutting board and dispose of the bay leaves. Dump the peas into a bowl, put your pot back over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add your leeks and peppers. Stir occasionally while the vegetables soften, adding thyme after a few minutes. Meanwhile, pull the meat off of the pork bones, chop it up, and add it back to the pot. 
  5. Add a cup of long-grain brown rice, plenty of freshly ground pepper, two cups of the bean liquid, and two cups of water. Taste the broth and add salt if needed. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, put a lid on it, and simmer for 40 minutes or until your rice is tender. 
  6. Stir in the kale, cover and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes. (I like my kale toothsome but, if you prefer more tender greens, add them a little earlier in the cooking process.)
  7. Mix in the parsley and the black-eyed peas, along with enough of their cooking liquid to give the dish a loose consistency. Add more salt and pepper as needed. I like to round out the flavor with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar. If your peppers aren’t as spicy as you might have liked, you can also use a vinegar-based hot sauce to get that tang.

Healthy Hoppin' John

For a little Hoppin’ John history, another tasty recipe featuring black-eyed peas and greens, and a glimpse at my Dollywood pilgrimage, check out A Hoppin’ New Year.

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