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Lucky Hoppin’ John and Happy New Year!

Lucky Hoppin’ John

Adapted from Frieda’s Hoppin John Recipe

Makes 5 servings

1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
6.5 ounces dried black-eyed peas, soaked in water overnight in the refrigerator
4 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 large bay leaf
6 peppered bacon strips
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, minced
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the rice, black-eyed peas, and water in a dutch oven. Stir in the thyme and bay leaf. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Uncover and reduce the heat and simmer 15 to 18 minutes, or until the rice and peas are done, checking to make sure the mixture does not boil dry.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, cilantro, garlic, and jalapeno peppers to the drippings in the pan. Sauté for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Crumble the bacon and add it to the skillet. Remove from the heat.

3. When the rice and peas are done, drain off any excess liquid and remove the bay leaf. Stir the bacon mixture into the rice and beans. The longer it sits, the more the flavors will blend.