Hoppin' John with Smoked Oysters
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN Plus overnight soaking
- SERVINGS: 4
Star chef Sean Brock riffs on the Southern classic Hoppin' John by topping it with thick pea gravy and smoked oysters.
Peas and Gravy
- 2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 cup Sea Island Red Peas, soaked overnight and drained (see Note)
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 small carrot, halved
- 3 celery ribs, halved
- 1 small jalapeño, halved lengthwise
- 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 10 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup Carolina Gold rice, preferably Anson Mills Carolina Gold (see Note)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- Two 3-ounce cans smoked oysters, drained
- Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
- PREPARE THE PEAS AND GRAVY In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the peas, onion, carrot, celery, jalapeño, garlic, thyme sprigs and bay leaf and cook over moderate heat, partially covered, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt. Drain the peas, reserving the broth. Pick out and discard the vegetables, thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
- Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the peas to a blender, reserving the rest. Add 2 cups of the broth, the vinegar and the butter and puree until smooth. Transfer the gravy to a bowl and keep warm. Reserve the remaining broth for another use.
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE RICE Preheat the oven to 300°. In a medium pot, bring 7 cups of water to a boil with 1 teaspoon of salt and the cayenne. Add the rice and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain and rinse the rice under cold water; drain again.
- Spread the rice on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dot the butter evenly over the rice and bake for 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until the grains are almost dry and separated. Transfer the rice to a bowl and stir in the reserved peas. Serve the rice and peas in bowls, topped with the pea gravy, oysters and scallions.
Crisp pilsners and briny oysters share a similar freshness that makes them a great match.