By Jessica Rothacker, Heirloom Fresh Market & Cafe, Athens, Georgia
For the pork belly:
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
¼ cup Bootlikker Jack Hot Sauce
2½ pounds pork belly
For the salad:
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
½ cup of Carolina Gold Rice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bunch of Baker Farms collards, ribs removed and sliced into ¼ inch strips
¼ cup minced shallot or red onion
½ cup sliced green onions
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 rib of celery, diced
½ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced parsley
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon Bootlikker Jack Hot Sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup canola oil or other neutral oil
Make the pork belly: In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, salt, thyme, and hot sauce. Place pork belly in a casserole dish and rub sugar mixture on both sides. Wrap casserole dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Once meat is marinated, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a roasting pan with foil and rinse sugar mixture off of pork. Pat pork belly dry with paper towels and place it in the roasting pan. Roast until pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 40 minutes.
Make the peas: While pork is cooking, drain black-eyed peas and place in a medium sauce pot. Add water to cover by about 1 inch and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the peas are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain and allow peas to cool to room temperature.
While the peas cook, bring 3 cups of water and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil and stir in rice. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12 minutes, then spread rice out on a sheet pan, dot with butter and sprinkle with black pepper. Bake for 5 minutes, then stir and return to oven for another 5 minutes. Set rice aside to cool to room temperature.
Make the vinaigrette: Put vinegar, garlic, mustard, honey, hot sauce, and salt in a blender and process on high until fully combined. While the blender is running, slowly drizzle in the oil, allowing the vinai-grette to emulsify.
Assemble the salad: Place collards in a large bowl. Add 1½ tablespoons of vinaigrette and massage the collards for 2 minutes, until the fibers in the leaves begin to break down and the leaves become tender. Add rice, black-eyed peas, shallot, green onions, carrot, celery, bell peppers, and parsley to the bowl and stir to combine.
To serve, cut warm pork belly into 2 x 4-inch rectangles and place on a bed of the hoppin’ john salad. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.
Chef Jessica Rothacker
Heirloom Fresh Market & Cafe, Athens, Georgia
Jessica Rothacker grew up going to company picnics for her father’s family business, barbecues at her grandparents’ house, and grand holiday meals. Her mother had an extensive family garden that taught her how to eat the best the season had to offer. After college, then culinary school, Rothacker worked for restaurants like Muss & Turner’s in Smyrna, Farm 255, where she developed a love for seasonal and sustainable cooking, and Ike & Jane where she worked on her pastry skills. A board member of PLACE and the Georgia Restaurant Association, she is one of the Georgia Grown Executive Chefs for 2020 and 2021, and in 2020, she joined Les Dames d’Escoffier International.
Baker Farms is a family business based in Norman Park, Georgia, where the soil and climate produce the highest quality of fresh greens. Once the secret ingredient used by local chefs, Baker Farms greens are now available in multiple grocery stores along the East Coast. For more, visit bakerfamilyproduce.com.
Bootlikker Hot Sauce
Bootlikker Hot Sauce was founded by Tommy Wood in 2002. The Jefferson, Georgia, based company has become well-known for finding the perfect balance: hot… but not too hot. This is the reason their two sauces have achieved such wide-spread popularity and won numerous awards. For more, visit bootlikker.com.