This morning we had four leftover chicken thighs in the fridge that Peg had grilled and smokey'd up outside on our faithful Old Smokey grill, while I mowed the lawn.
Alongside the smoky thighs hanging out in the fridge, I found half a breast of baked chicken, so, as long as none of them had anything better to do, I decided to do like my Mama did and cook up this ol'-fashioned dish for Peggy who was feeling a li'l under the weather.
I dragged out our big black iron pot and seasoned the bottom of it with three thick slices of bacon cut in small pieces. Once they started sizzling, I threw in some rough chopped yellow onion and sprinkled on our own blend of Cajun Seasoning.
When the onions softened up nicely, I added a lb. of dried black eye peas (that I washed and sorted) and over-topped everything in the pot with an inch of water, then brought it to a boil. I reduced the heat, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about an hour.
After an hour, the beans had swollen up and began to soften, so I added the leftover chicken. An added bonus was a clove of roasted garlic that I found which Peg had stuck in the cavity of the baked chicken when she had cooked it. Into the pot it went, as well.
A half an hour later, I added some parsley fresh out of our garden, some of our green onions and bell peppers that we had harvested, cut up and froze earlier in the season, and let that all cook in, lid on.
After yet another half an hour, I sampled. (Cajun cookin' takes time...the ingredients have to 'get to know each other' and 'marry'.)
The beans were nice and soft, thoroughly cooked, so, from years of experience, I 'gauged' the pot by eye and decided I would need to fill my regular coffee cup about two times with my usual Mahatma long grain (uncooked) rice, so first I added three cups of water to the beans that already still had some juice in them. (Don't add the rice just yet.)
I brought it all back again to a good rolling boil then added the two cups of rice and let it all simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes "at a good bubble", stirring every minute or so. While it was simmering away, I preheated the oven for 250 degrees.
After about five minutes, I put the lid back on tightly and stuck it into the 250 degree oven and went about my business, letting it 'do its thing'.
An Hour later I took it out the oven and fluffed it up. Viola! (if food be the music of love, play on!)
I guess most folks around the country call this "Hoppin' John", and around New Orleans it's "Black-eyed Peas Jambalaya, but where I was born and raised, the Cajuns call it "Rio-fev". One thing most everybody calls it, though, is 'delicious'.
I wrote this post as an example of how I cook with no recipe or ingredient list 'cause I just used whatever I found in the fridge. I didn't put any measurements for yall, 'cause I don't measure...like my Mama, I just add 'til it "looks right".
Since my 'sous chef' was under the weather, I did manage to write down the steps myself about what I was cooking during the whole process.
Most Cajun men love to cook, having had the dishes passed on down to them by their family. I learned how to cook at both my Dad and Mama's side, not to mention my grandparents, as well, and now I pass the dishes on to the next generation, or to anyone who wants to spend a little time leisurely tending to a pot of good Cajun cooking that has passed the taste test of time.