DECEMBER 17, 2012

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

TRAVIS GRIMES, CHEF DE CUISINE, HUSK RESTAURANT

Travis Grimes, chef de cuisine at Husk Restaurant, has lived in Charleston, South Carolina, since he was nine years old. So it’s fitting that he shared his recipe for a quintessentially Southern dish, Hoppin’ John. Typically eaten on New Year’s Day to ensure good luck in the year ahead, the dish was invented in Charleston, which was at one time a major rice-producing region.

Grimes makes his Hoppin’ John with Carolina Gold rice and Southern cow peas (also known as black-eyed peas), flavoring the mixture with a smoky hock stock and served alongside pork chops. “At Husk,” says Grimes, “we use quality ingredients to cook the kind of food that we want the South to be known for.”

Start 2013 off Southern-style by cooking a batch of Grimes’s Hoppin’ John.

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DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Stock It to Me

To make the hock stock that flavors the Hoppin’ John, Grimes simmers smoked ham hocks and bacon from Benton’s in Tennessee. When the stock is done, Grimes says you can pull the meat from the ham hocks and add it to the Hoppin’ John. He suggests making the stock ahead and freeze it so it’s ready whenever you want to make the dish.

Rice and Beans

Husk has been instrumental in saving many Southern ingredients that were in danger of extinction. For the Hoppin’ John, Grimes recommends using Carolina Gold rice, which he purchases through Anson Mills.

MAKE THE
Hoppin' John

YIELD

4 servings (plus 2 1/2 quarts leftover hock stock)

INGREDIENTS

Hoppin' John

Dried black-eyed peas, 2 cups

Water, 6 cups

Whole, canned plum tomatoes, 6 (halved, seeded and finely chopped)

Light brown sugar, ¼ cup (lightly packed)

Apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup

Hot sauce, 2 tablespoons (preferably Crystal hot sauce)

Dried bay leaf, 1

Corn, 2 ears (husked)

Bone-in pork loin chops, four 8-ounce chops

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Grapeseed or canola oil, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons, divided

Sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia), 1 (finely chopped)

Green bell pepper, 1 (halved, seeded and finely chopped)

Red bell pepper, 1 (halved, seeded and finely chopped)

Garlic cloves, 4 (finely chopped)

Jalapeño, ½ (finely chopped)

Long-grain white rice (take-out rice works great), 1 cup (cooked and cooled)

Canned cherry tomatoes, 2 cups (drained)

Scallions, 2 (white and light green part only, finely chopped)

Chives, 4 (finely chopped--about 1 tablespoon)

Flat-leaf parsley, 3 sprigs (finely chopped--about 1 tablespoon)

Lemon, 1 (juiced)

Unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons

Hock Stock

Water, 1½ gallons

Smoked ham hocks, 4

Smoky bacon, 2 ounces (preferably from Benton's Hickory Smoked Country Ham)

Vine-ripened tomatoes, 3 (cored and roughly chopped)

Carrots, 2 (roughly chopped)

Celery stalks, 2 (roughly chopped)

Apples, 1½ (peeled, halved, cored and roughly chopped)

Sweet onions (such as Maui or Vidalia), 1½ (roughly chopped)

Garlic cloves, 6 (unpeeled and sliced in half horizontally)

Thyme sprigs, 4

Dried bay leaf, 1

Whole black peppercorns, 1½ teaspoons

EQUIPMENT

Cutting board

Chef's knife

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowls

Stockpot or large soup pot

Fine-mesh sieve

Airtight container or gallon-size resealable freezer bag

Medium pot or Dutch oven

Colander

Rimmed baking sheet

Tongs

Grill pan or cast iron pan

Silicone brush (or tongs and paper towels)

Serving platter

Small saucepan

DIRECTIONS

1. Soak the peas for the Hoppin' John: In a large bowl, add the:

  • Black-eyed peas
  • Water

Soak the black-eyed peas overnight (or quick soak them by bringing the peas and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, simmer for 2 minutes, turn off the heat and let the peas soak for 1 hour, then drain and continue to step 2).

2. Make the hock stock: In a large stockpot set over high heat, bring to a boil the:

  • Water
  • Ham hocks
  • Bacon
  • Chopped vine-ripened tomatoes
  • Chopped carrots
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped apples
  • Chopped onions
  • Halved garlic cloves
  • Thyme sprigs
  • Bay leaf
  • Whole black peppercorns

Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 4 hours. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve and into a large bowl. Set aside 8 cups for the Hoppin' John and refrigerate or freeze the rest (about 10 cups) to use another time.

3. Make the Hoppin' John: Drain the black-eyed peas (discard the soaking liquid). In a medium pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, add the drained black-eyed peas and hock stock. Add the:

  • Chopped plum tomatoes
  • Light brown sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Hot sauce
  • Bay leaf

Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce to medium-low and gently simmer until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. Set a colander over a large bowl and drain the peas. Set the black-eyed peas pot likker (broth) and the cooked black-eyed peas aside.

4. Heat the broiler to high. On a rimmed baking sheet, add the:

  • Husked corn

Broil until the corn is browned on all sides, using tongs to turn the corn every 1 to 2 minutes, about 8 minutes total (watch the corn carefully as broiler intensities vary). Remove the corn from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, stand the corn perpendicular to the cutting board and use the chef's knife to slice off the kernels, slicing lengthwise down the cob.

5. On a cutting board, place the:

  • Pork loin chops

Season with:

  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a grill pan over high heat until it starts to smoke, 1½ to 2 minutes. Use a silicone brush (or tongs and a folded paper towel) to grease the ridges of the grill with:

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil

Add the pork chops and cook until grill-marked and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Use the tongs to turn the chops over and cook on the other side until the pork chops are cooked to your preferred degree of doneness, about 6 minutes longer for medium. Transfer the pork chops to a platter.

6. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the remaining:

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

Once the oil is hot, after about 2 minutes, add the:

  • Chopped sweet onion
  • Chopped green bell pepper
  • Chopped red bell pepper
  • Chopped garlic
  • Chopped jalapeño

Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked black-eyed peas and corn, then add half of the reserved pot likker  and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

7. To the vegetable mixture in the skillet, stir in the:

  • Cooked rice
  • Canned cherry tomatoes
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped chives
  • Chopped parsley
  • Lemon juice 
  • Kosher salt to taste 
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Once well combined, gently stir in the:

  • Unsalted butter

Pour the remaining pot likker into a small saucepan and heat until warm. Divide the Hoppin' John between 4 bowls. Top with a pork chop and drizzle with the remaining pot likker.

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