Tag Archives: pepper

Hoppin’ John

Hoppin’ John is a traditionally southern dish that’s often made to celebrate the New Year. It’s also delicious. The ingredients are:

  • Black-eyed peas (1 pound)
  • Rice (3 cups)
  • Collard greens or kale (1-2 bunches)
  • Bacon (half pound or so)
  • Onions (3 large, diced)
  • Garlic (1 head or so, minced)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
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The ingredients

The black-eyed peas require special attention. If you don’t soften them up enough, they’ll be somewhat crunchy, and the whole dish will be less pleasant.

So you may want to start by soaking them for an hour, and then rinsing them. But the key thing is to cook them well. Place them in a pot, cover them with water, and boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes at least, and then let them stand in the hot water for another hour, before straining them out and rinsing them in cold water.

 

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Before boiling.

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After boiling. Don’t be worried about the detritus that collects at the top; just skim it off.

You should also make 3 cups of rice; I use a rice cooker.

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Rice-making

Cut the bacon into smallish pieces, and cook until crispy, then remove from the pan.

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Bacon-cutting.

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Bacon-cooking.

Leave the bacon grease in the pan. It’s the grease that lend its flavor the rest of the dish.

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Onion-cooking.

First, fry up the onions until soft. Then add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for another minute or two.

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The garlic, pre-mincing.

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With the garlic and pepper flakes added.

Then shred up the greens and add them to the pot. They’ll cook down and become tender in the grease.

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The shredded greens will…

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…cook down.

This is then the time to strain, rinse, and add the beans to the pot, as well as the rice.

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Bean-straining.

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Rice-adding.

Mix it all together, and season to taste with the salt and pepper, and you’re done!

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Yum

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Ryan’s Mussel Fettuccine

This recipe of mine has changed over the years, and as you can see from the list of ingredients, there’s still plenty of room for improvisation:

  • ½ cup white wine
  • Garlic
  • Stick of butter
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Fettuccini (box)
  • Mussels (2 lbs)
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt?
  • Pepper?
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The ingredients.

First, you may want to soak and de-beard the mussels. Since we’ll be putting the mussels, shell and all, into our meal, you may also want to scrub the shell. I don’t – I think rinsing is fine – but to each his or her own.

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Soaking the mussels. Use cold water and soak them for as long as you like. Soaking incentivizes the mussels to let out their beards, which you can then pluck more easily.

Next, fry the onions and garlic in the butter for a little while. I might use a large onion, or less, or more. Similarly, the amount of garlic you use is up to you. I use at least a few crushed cloves.  Again, how much you want to cook things at this stage is up to you.

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Onions in butter smell delicious.

Next add your white wine and diced tomatoes.

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Adding stuff

And then your lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Again, you have discretion in how much you use. You can always add more red pepper later, if you want it spicier – and in my opinion, this dish is better with some kick. But it’s up to you.

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Adding more stuff.

At some point, you may want to start making your fettuccini. Follow the instructions on the box. I use a whole box, but again, it’s up to you. And I add olive oil and a bit of salt to the water, but you may do things differently.

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Making fettuccini

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Making fettuccini

Add the mussels. Yup, just pour them in there – just the mussels, that is; not the water they were soaking in.

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Adding the mussels.

Cover the pot – let them steam. In the heat, they’ll gradually open, which is how you know they’re cooked. At some point, you may want to add in the noodles, too. Then cover the pan again so the mussels can continue to cook.

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Adding the noodles.

When the mussels are fully open, the dish is done. You should taste test it, and see how much salt and pepper you want to add, and decide whether you want to add more lemon juice or white wine or red pepper flakes or anything else. Then you get to the good part:

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Yum.

Enjoy!

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