This hoppin’ version of a traditional Southern dish is spicy with one Habanero chile, extra-gutsy with two, and sheer fire with three! Use dried habaneros if you like a slightly milder, smokier flavor.
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
2 6.5-ounce bags for Frieda’s Dried Blackeyed Peas, or one 11-ounce tub of Frieda’s Pre-Soaked Blackeyed Peas, fully prepared per package instructions
4 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
6 bacon strips
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 3 Fresh Habanero Chiles, seeded and finely minced (or Dried Habaneros, reconstituted according to package directions)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven, place rice with blackeyed peas and water. Stir in thyme and bay leaf. Cover and bring mixture to a boil. Uncover and reduce heat and simmer 15 to 18 minutes or until rice and beans are done, checking to make sure mixture does not boil dry.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons of drippings in skillet. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, parsley, garlic, and habanero chile to drippings in pan. Sauté about 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Crumble bacon; add to skillet. Remove from heat.
When rice and beans are done, drain off any excess liquid. Remove bay leaf. Stir bacon mixture into rice and beans. The longer it sits, the more the flavors blend.