Despite their year-round availability, dried black-eyed peas get their chance to shine in the form of hoppin’ John, a southern specialty believed to bring good luck when eaten on New Year’s Day. Traditionally prepared with smoked pork and white rice, the dish is open to creative interpretation—like this Italianized version from native New Yorker Bobby Flay.
Bobby Flay’s Hoppin’-John Risotto
1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 pound applewood-smoked slab bacon
6 sprigs fresh thyme, plus
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
Pick over the peas to remove dirt and stones. Soak them in water to cover at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain the peas and transfer to a medium saucepan. Cut the slab of bacon in half crosswise and add one of the halves to the saucepan along with the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until tender, 45 to 55 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the peas, transfer to a bowl, and remove the bacon and thyme sprigs. Cut the remaining half of bacon into small dice. Place the bacon in a medium sauté pan over medium heat and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Bring the stock to a simmer over low heat in a large saucepan. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes, until lightly toasted and opaque. (1) Add the wine and cook until completely reduced. Add 2 cups of the hot stock and stir until evaporated. Repeat with the remaining stock, adding 1 cup at a time until the rice is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes. (2) Stir in the black-eyed peas and chopped thyme and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to a large shallow bowl and (3) top with the crispy bacon.