Friday, February 15, 2013

Hoppin' John Fritters

Well these babies have a bit of interesting story....  Last week, our city was hit by an EF4 Tornado.  Yes, that's a big one - 170 mph winds.  It passed a mile from our home, but left us unscathed.  Many families were not so lucky.  While we knew that severe weather was expected that afternoon, we really had no idea that the monster from the Wizard of Oz was coming our way.  We were just minding our business passing the rainy afternoon hours away doing a little kitchen project.  And so you will see that the color is pretty weird in some of these photos.  

My little one was pretty freaked out, so during the power outage I wanted to make it as much like an "adventure" as I could... and less like some terrible thing that had demolished homes, schools, and businesses.  The threat of the weather had passed, and it was just a waiting game until our power came back on, so we carried on with these fritters.  Some of these photos were made before we lost electricity.  Others were made with candles and the flashlights on our phones, held over the stove.  

Now about these.  I happen to love Hopping John - a Southern rice dish that is filled with black-eyed peas and sausage (*see food nerd notes at bottom of post).  It just so happens to be one of the symbols of good luck eaten in this part of the country on New Year's Day; and it is typically served with cornbread.  These fritters fuse both of these concepts... and we loved them!  Not to mention... they obviously brought us good luck!  But just between me and you, we nicknamed them Tornado Fritters.
  • 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix (or your favorite kind)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup (about a 6" piece) smoked sausage, cut into small cubes 
  • 1/3 cup canned black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • canola oil for frying

Step-by-Step:
Prep -
Cut the smoked sausage into small cubes.  I used about a 6" piece of sausage.  Get the one with the smokiest flavor you can find!
Rinse the can black eyed peas.
Chop the onion fairly small.
Prepare your cornbread batter.  I am using 1 box of cornbread mix, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup milk.
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
Mix - 
Now we will add all the goodies and seasonings to the batter:
1/2 cup drained whole kernel corn
1/2 cup sausage
1/3 cup drained and rinsed black eyed peas
1/4 cup chopped onions

3 Tbsp melted butter

1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Fry them -
Heat oil to 350 degrees F.  I always use a candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pot so I can see my oil temperature.

Drop the fritters by a large spoonful. (Probably about a tablespoon.)  I found that it worked better if I put the spoon down into the oil and allowed the batter to slide off into the grease rather than drying to "drop" the batter from a ladle of spoon.
Add the batter carefully to the oil
 You will use a spoon to turn them midway through the cooking to ensure even browning.
They only take a few minutes to brown.
Now here is what it actually looks like in the kitchen at this point.  The tornado came through in the evening, so there was no more sunlight available... but it was dinnertime, so we carried on.  These are times when I am especially grateful for having a gas stove, rather than electric!!!
Our tornado adventure!
 When they are golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon.
Have you ever cooked by the light of a cell phone?!  Thank goodness for the "flashlight" feature!  And of course the flash from the camera was a big help as well.
Allow the fritters to drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Sprinkle them with a little salt if you'd like when they first come out of the oil.


Once they are cool enough to handle, break one of these little guys open!!  Yum!!  Cornbread nuggets seasoned up with great Southern flavor:  corn, smoked sausage, black eyed peas, and onions!  If I had some green onions, those would have also been an excellent addition to these.

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Here are a few more Southern favorites:
Shrimp and Grits with Tasso Cream Sauce
 

Written Method:
Cut the smoked sausage into small cubes.  I used about a 6" piece of sausage.  Get the one with the smokiest flavor you can find!   Rinse the can black eyed peas.  Chop the onion fairly small.  Prepare your cornbread batter using 1 box of cornbread mix, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup milk.   Add all the rest of the ingredients to the batter.  Season the batter with the garlic powder, black pepper, and kosher salt. (Green onions would also be an excellent addition to these.)

Heat oil to 350 degrees F.   Drop the fritters by a large spoonful. (Probably about a tablespoon.)  I found that it worked better if I put the spoon down into the oil and allowed the batter to slide off into the grease rather than drying to "drop" the batter from a ladle of spoon.  You will use a spoon to turn them midway through the cooking to ensure even browning.  When they are golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon.  Allow the fritters to drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Sprinkle them with a little salt if you'd like when they first come out of the oil.



Food Nerd Notes:
Hoppin' John is a dish served in the Southern United States consisting of black-eyed peas and rice, with chopped onion and sliced bacon or sausage, seasoned with salt.  In the southern United States, eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. Another New Year's Day traditional food, cornbread, can also be served to represent wealth, being the color of gold.   Hoppin' John was originally an African-American food, before spreading to the entire population of the South. Hoppin' John may have evolved from rice and bean mixtures that were the subsistence of enslaved West Africans en route to the Americas.

As far as I can tell, a recipe for "Hopping John" in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847, is one of the earliest written references.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Julie! Thanks for this recipe. I just enjoyed a couple of these delicious fritters and we loved them...I think the taste changed a bit since Venezuelan products are not exactly the same. They were yummy, though. Happy 2014!

    ReplyDelete

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