Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year and Mexican Style Hoppin' John

It's been a year full of big changes for our little family, but it's been so obvious through all of them that home is truly where your family is and our hope and peace and security are not dependent on our circumstances or location. We miss our other family and dear friends so, so much, but now it's 2012 and we will be heading back to KY in just a few short months!

Last year at New Years we were at the lake with our friends the H's. Baby P was little bitty!

We got to visit with the H's a little bit when we were in KY, look at these two boys this year!

It's hard to believe they're so big and running around wreaking havoc!

We have a New Year's tradition that my Mom started years ago, we make Hoppin' John for 'good luck'. I usually make the traditional version, which we all love, but yesterday morning I woke up with the wild idea to invent a Mexican version. Here it is! I called it Mexican style because there are carrots and celery in there too, not sure that is authentically Mexican, but there is enough spice to warm you up on a cold winter day!

Just a disclaimer, this recipe makes a ton! So, have a bunch of friends over or get your freezer bags ready. It freezes really, really well and is super yummy! You could use your leftovers as a soup or chili starter or make burritos with flour tortillas and all the fixin's.

Mexican Style Hoppin' John with Chicken

1 package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2-3 lbs.this is up to you, I didn't use very much
      because the beans are so filling, I used thighs because they hold up a little better and are more
      fatty/flavorful than chicken breasts)
1 lb. dried black eyed peas (sorted, rinsed and drained)
vegetable oil, butter
6 cups of chicken stock (you can buy this but I prefer the flavor of stock made with chicken base like
       Minor's or even homemade if you have it on hand)
2 limes
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (chopped)
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
4 T minced garlic
2 cans mild mexican style tomatoes (rotel, with or without green chiles)
2 small cans of chopped green chiles
Cooked white rice

-Emeril's Essence (original)
-black pepper

Optional (Guacamole or avocado, tortilla chips, ice cold beer)

1) Peel and chop all your vegetables, melt 2 T of butter and one T of oil in a large skillet. Saute onions until transparent, add other vegetables and garlic, cover and cook on medium heat about 5 minutes. Add half of the chicken stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Pour entire mixture into a large slow cooker. Add canned vegetables to the slow cooker as well. (Keep the skillet to prepare chicken)

2) In a collander, rinse and sort black eyed peas then add them to the broth and vegetables in the slow cooker. Sort just means look for anything that is NOT a black eyed pea, I have sometimes found (in cheaper bags, this one was perfect) small rocks or other types of beans, etc...

3) In skillet over medium high heat, add another T or two of oil and the chicken thighs. Sprinkle chicken (both sides) with a little black pepper, Emeril's, cumin, and coriander. Cook chicken 3 or 4 minutes on each side and transfer to the slow cooker. In the same skillet, bring remaining chicken stock to a boil (you don't want to lose an ounce of flavor) and add that to the slow cooker as well.

4) To the slow cooker, add a T of Emeril's, 1 tsp of kosher salt, a T of cumin, a tsp of paprika, and a tsp of coriander. Stir everything together and cook on high for 6-8 hours. (go easy on the salt because Emeril's and the chicken buillon contain salt, wait for pepper and cayenne until you can see how spicy the peppers and chiles turn out)

5) When peas and chicken are softened and cooked through (at least 6 hours), shred chicken, taste and adjust seasoning (salt, emeril's, cayenne, cumin). Stir in chopped cilantro (reserve a few tablespoons for sprinkling on individual portions) and squeeze in the juice of one lime. Cook on high for another 10 or 15 minutes.

6) Serve over rice with a dollop of guacamole, a sprinkle of cilantro, a wedge of lime and a tall, cold beer! It was delicious with the guac on top and a few tortilla chips on the side, I usually make my own but avocados are so expensive right now that I just bought a package of pre-made and it was really good.

Happy New Year! I hope it is wonderful, full of blessings and great memories and of course, 'good luck'!

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