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Hoppin’ John Risotto

Serves: 4-6

½ pound dried black-eyed peas
1 pound applewood smoked slab bacon
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1. Pick over the black-eyed peas to remove dirt and stones. Soak them in water to cover at least 4 hours or overnight. 
2. 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, if needed, transfer to a bowl and remove the bacon and thyme sprigs
3. 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. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. 
4. Put the stock in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
5. Heat the reserved bacon fat and butter 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. Add the wine and cook until completely reduced. Add 2 cups of the hot liquid and stir until evaporated. Repeat with the remaining liquid, adding 1 cup at a time until the rice is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the black-eyed peas, chopped thyme and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to a large shallow bowl and top with the crisp bacon.

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