Sheldon Simeon's travels, which he describes as "very Forrest Gump-ish," influence many of his dishes. For his update on the Hoppin' John, a Lowcountry staple made from peas and rice, he adds Hawaiian touches like braised oxtail (a nod to his time on Top Chef season 14 in Charleston).
2 tablespoons canola oil
1½ pounds oxtails
1½ tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
2 cups diced yellow onions (from 2 medium onions)
2 cups diced carrots (from 5 medium carrots)
2 cups diced celery (from 4 stalks)
¼ cup chopped jalapeño chiles (from 2 chiles)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5 thyme sprigs
3 fresh bay leaves
4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup chopped scallions
How to Make It
Prepare the peas: Heat a Dutch oven over high, and add canola oil. Sprinkle oxtails evenly with ½ tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper, and place in Dutch oven. Cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove oxtails from Dutch oven. Pour off drippings, leaving browned bits in Dutch oven, and add stock. Bring stock to a boil over high, using a wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Return oxtails to Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, 1½ to 2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer oxtails to a plate, and let cool slightly.
Add peas, onions, carrots, celery, jalapeño, garlic, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves to stock mixture; reduce heat to low, and cook, partially covered, until peas are soft, about 1 hour. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. While peas cook, pick oxtail meat from bones, and set aside.
Prepare the rice: While the peas finish cooking, preheat oven to 300°F. Bring water, salt, and cayenne pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium; add rice, and stir. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until rice is al dente, about 15 minutes.
Drain rice in a fine wire-mesh strainer, and rinse under cold water. Spread rice out on a rimmed baking sheet. Dry rice in preheated oven 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Scatter butter evenly over rice, and continue to dry, stirring every few minutes, until all excess moisture has evaporated and grains are dry and separate, about 5 more minutes.
Add oxtail meat and cider vinegar to peas. Using a slotted spoon, transfer peas to a large serving bowl. Add rice, and carefully toss together. (Pour enough oxtail gravy over the top to moisten the peas without making the dish too soupy, about 1 cup.) Garnish with scallions.