Monday, January 01, 2007

Lucky Legumes

Determined to start the new year off on the right foot, we indulged in foodie folklore and served up Hoppin' John. Years ago, my dear friend (and cosmopolitan southern belle) Enslow introduced me to this southern tradition that ensures good luck and prosperity in the new year. The jauntily named dish is a stew of black-eyed peas and ham hocks. I doctored my own rendition and served it with brown rice and a generous splash of Texas Pete's hot sauce to finish.

Our next-door neighbor Tracey shared the Italian equivalent of fortuitous food with us -- a delicious stew of lentils with a fresh twist of mint.

Here's your choice of two legume recipes to bring you the best of luck in 2007.

Hoppin' John

6 pieces of bacon
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 green bell pepper
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 cans of black eyed peas
1 teaspoon dried thyme
bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

cooked brown rice

Texas Pete's hot sauce

Cook the bacon in a deep skillet or dutch oven until cripsy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off excess bacon fat from pan. Cook onion, celery, green pepper, red pepper flakes over medium heat until tender and translucent. Add black-eyed peas, crumbled bacon & chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 30-40 minutes, until broth has reduced and thickened a bit.

Serve the Hoppin' John over cooked brown rice & spice it up to your liking with Texas Pete's hot sauce.

Lentil Stew

(from Memories of a Lost Egypt: A Memoir with Recipes by Colette Rossant )

1 onion (whole)
1 lb. small black lentils
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tsp butter
2 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Peel a large onion, stick it with a whole clove, and plac it in a saucepan with lentils, bay leaf, chicken stock, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, skimming occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Discard the onion and bay leaf and stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspon finely chopped fresh thyme, and butter. Reduce the heat to how and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with 2 tsp chopped fresh mint.