Guilt in the Kitchen

I've said it before and I'll say it again. There's nothing quite like the guilt of leftovers. Maybe it wasn't my favorite dish, or it didn't turn out right. Maybe I'm just plain tired of it, or maybe I can't think of a way to make it new again. Whatever the excuse, those leftovers stare up at me from the fridge, warning me that their days are numbered.

That's what happened with the blackeyed peas. They were never a favorite of mine when I was a child. I always (grudgingly) ate one for good luck on New Year's at my mother's insistence. It wasn't until I grew them in my own garden and discovered Hoppin' John that I could really appreciate them.

This year was my first New Year living in Utah, and I was amazed to find fresh blackeyed peas at my grocery store. Of course, they only came in one size: prepackaged, about two cups worth, I I felt obligated to make a full recipe of Hoppin' John for New Year's. In retrospect, I should have cut the rice in half and used the same amount of blackeyed peas, because even though we both had generous servings, there were enough leftovers to feed me lunch for a week...except I never quite got around to eating them as leftovers.

Enter eggs and cheese, my favorite ingredients for making old food taste new again. I made a frittata, adding in some spicy local sausage and plenty of cheese for an entirely different dish.

I wasn't expecting much, but it ended up being pretty darn good. The rice melted into the eggs, making them almost silky, and the peas brought an unexpected texture. But the sausage really carried the day.

Hoppin' John Frittata

Hoppin' John, the first time around, served on a bed of boiled collard greens

Hoppin' John is a traditional southern dish served on New Year's day for good luck.  It's basically a pilaf of rice, blackeyed peas (also called cowpeas), and ham. Seasonings include onion, garlic, celery, and bell pepper. Here's a basic recipe for it, and another one here.  I use the Hoppin' John recipe in Joy of Cooking, but there are plenty of ways to prepare it. It doesn't really matter which one you use, as it's simply a base for the frittata.

Hoppin' John Frittata
This recipe serves four with no leftovers. It can easily be doubled or scaled down depending on your needs. Just be sure to use an appropriate size pan.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups prepared Hoppin' John
  • 1 link sausage (about 4 ounces), broken up and cooked
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups grated cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 3 - 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, cream, and about half of the cheese. Set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in a medium ovenproof skillet. Add Hoppin' John and sausage, and saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until warmed through.

Pour egg mixture over the contents of the skillet and lower heat to medium low. Cook until the eggs are beginning to set around the edges, about ten minutes.

Top with remaining cheese and transfer to preheated oven. Cook 30-40 minutes more, or until the eggs are completely set and the top is beginning to brown.

To get the top all brown and bubbly, if you're into that sort of thing, place under a hot broiler for 2-3 minutes. If you're doing this, be sure to keep an eye on the frittata, since it can burn quickly.

Serve warm. If you happen to have leftovers, they make a good breakfast or lunch. Just reheat in the microwave 30 seconds to a minute. Trust me, you won't be avoiding the leftovers from this one.

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