New Years' Hoppin' John Risotto

 This is the year I decided to do it.  That famous and traditional (in the American South anyway) New Years' good luck, Hoppin' John business.  With a West Coast riff.  Well what else do you expect from a California girl, transplanted in Hawaii??  The unconventional I hope.  May bother sincere Southerners and Italians alike. 

Hoppin' John with the rice cooked right in it, a risotto, spiked with black-eyed peas, where you add the broth in two big glops, instead of dribbling in a bit at a time, stirring, dribble, stir, etc. This fabulous idea is the brainchild of Charlene Rollins of New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, in Talent Oregon.  Another West Coaster of course.  It comes to us via Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Today cookbook.  An amazing cotillion of diverse recipes from all over the dad blamed place, which I will never, even if I live to be 200, be able to work my way through.

And, by the way, this post is dedicated to my friend Nancy, a native of Mississippi, who this very evening is leaving Hawaii after only 10 days?? and returning to Alaska?? to teach probably ungrateful hooligans, which is another story. When she (and her husband) retire in a year or so, they'll be here to stay.  Hey Nancy, have some Hoppin' John on me.  Though, as we're having it for New Year's Eve, I guess any left for tomorrow, as per tradition, will be Skippin' Jenny. I don't make this stuff up.  Or Skippin' Town Nancy.

Our lovely version includes, apart from the requisite rice and black-eyed peas, caramelized onions, pancetta, and bacon, so how could you go wrong.  Though, I couldn't find pancetta, and just substituted coppa for it. All you need for...

Hoppin' John Risotto 

from Gourmet Today, edited by Ruth Reichl

Serves 6 as a main, 10 as a side

4 bacon slices, chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
2 lbs. yellow onions (about 5 medium), halved lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise
black-eyed peas - cooked, from a can (drained) or frozen, thawed or dried and pressure cooked (as I did)
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 oz. sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Theoretically, there is a bit of time for some of you, if you want to use the dried beans, then tonight whilst waiting for the big ball to drop, set those black-eyed peas in a pressure cooker (or pot), cover with water by a good 2 inches or so, add 2 tablespoons cooking oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Now just wait until tomorrow to cook them.  First drain though and then cover with water again before pressure cooking.  If using frozen, cook according to package directions.  If canned, then just drain.  No problem.

Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove to paper towels and set aside.  Note however, that this can very easily be a vegetarian dish.  Just leave out the bacon and pancetta.  There is plenty of flavor regardless. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to fat remaining in skillet and melt, heating just til foam subsides.  Now, add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cook stirring occasionally until golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.

 Heat 2 more tablespoons of the butter in a 5-6 quart heavy pot over medium heat until hot, but not smoking.  Add the red onion and celery and cook, stirring now and again, until softened - 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring  for another minute or so.  Add in the rice and saute that for a minute.  Stir in the wine and increase heat to medium high, boiling until liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Add all but 1/2 cup of the caramelized onions (save the rest for topping), the black-eyed peas, pancetta, thyme, red pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups of the stock.  Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer briskly, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until most of the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the remaining 4 cups of stock and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is taken up and rice is just tender and creamy looking, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the lemon juice, stirring until butter is incorporated.  Dish up and sprinkle each serving with crispy bacon, black pepper, some reserved caramelized onion and parsley.  Served with collard greens, chard or spinach, it's supposed to bring more luck.  Green being the color of MONEY.  I'm just reporting here.  What some people may think.  But, as I had some nice Swiss Chard, it did go perfectly with the Risotto.

This so totally delicious - creamy and savory.  I wouldn't change a thing.  It is going to be our new tradition around here. Enjoy.
Vegetarians - just leave out the bacon bits and pancetta.  With that in mind, I'm linking this to My Meatless Mondays, hosted by Chaya, who is including a re-cap of great recipes from 2010. Be sure to check it out.  Also linking to Hearth 'N Soul Blog Hop over at Girl Chef's place.  More incredible dishes to try.

African Tulip, Hawaiian skies - view from my deck this morning - Happy New Year everyone!


Swathi said...

Risotto looks delicious.

Wishing you and family a happy and prosperous 2011

Emily Z said...

Yummy looking risotto. I love risotto but never make it. I am not sure why! I need to! Happy New Year!

Joanne said...

I am always up for some food fusion especially if it involves creamy delicious risotto! Great meal.

Dinners and Dreams said...

I wish you all the luck that comes with a Hoppin John dish. It looks delicious.


Chats the Comfy Cook said...

I love risotto. I made a veggie risotto one, last week. This looks delicious and would expand my risotto collection which is not nearly big enough.

Tamarah said...

I love simple delicious recipes and this one looks amazing. I would love for you to link this or any of your recipes to my recipe blog hop. http://homeandpantry.blogspot.com/2011/01/cuban-style-picadillo.html

Thanks so much for sharing your recipe.

Ben said...

Oh, that sounds so interesting. I'm glad you decided to make it and share it with us.

Christy said...

What a great combination of flavors and mixing of traditions and oh, I can't think of the word but I like how it is southern and italian and a bit californian! Thanks for sharing this with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop!

Sense of Home Kitchen said...

I have never made anything like this, it looks and sounds delicious. I also love the photos of the greenery surrounding your home. I look out and see only white. :-)