Monday, April 15, 2013

**RECIPE** Hot Water Corn Bread & Seasoned Pinto Beans

A favorite pairing of mine. Everyone does things differently. This is the way my mother and sister taught me to prepare these dishes. (I've posted the cornbread recipe before, but revised it as I've prepared it so many more times over the years!)

Hot Water Cornbread
1 cup yellow Cornmeal (I use Albers)
1/4 cup Onions finely diced
1 small Garlic clove (opt) fine-chopped
Green Onion (opt) fine-chopped
about 1/4 tsp Salt
about 1/2 white sugar
Canola for frying (enough to have 1/4'' deep in fry pan)
1/2 tsp Olive oil - to add to mix (opt.)
4 cups Water
(Paper towels for draining.)

Measurements depend on how much bread you want. A cup of cornmeal makes about eight small playing card-sized patties. You can choose shape & size of patties and it's not difficult to make more, so don't worry. Have everything chopped and added to meal before preparing water and oil.
  • Put your water on to boil.
  • Put your oil on, ready to heat for frying.
  • Mix all your other ingredients in a heat-resistant bowl.
  • When water is boiling (this is the most important thing!), slowly add to Cornmeal mix, a little bit at a time, mixing well to get all the meal wet. Stir in and add more water, slowly until your consistency is wet but thick enough to scoop and pour into hot grease - about the same but a touch thicker as for baking cornbread. Now add the olive oil to mix and stir well.
  • Fry until first side is crispy, flip and repeat. (I like my bread a little mushy in the middle, so I fry light.)
Keep in mind that you can always add more water, but you can't take it away. (If you try adding more cornmeal, do it separately with more BOILING water.)

The trick to this is that the boiling water cooks the meal even before you fry it. If your water is not boiling, your patties will be "mealy" and good for nothing.

Make sure to drain your bread well. It is meant to be eaten hot, but some people like it cold. Also, you can let it cool and serve with the beans to heat the bread.

Seasoned Pinto Beans
Cook your beans as bag instructs, except do not soak. Soaking tends to make the beans "hully," with the outer skin falling off. Instead, add about a 1/4 tsp of baking soda for every 3 cups of beans.

Smoked Hock (or smoked turkey)
Yellow onions (diced medium to fine, your pref.)
Garlic cloves (slit as if you are going to dice, but left whole)
*Brown Sugar (this thickens & flavors bean juice)
Onion powder
Garlic salt
Liquid Smoke (about 1/8 Tsp to 3 cups)
Olive oil (1 Tbl to every 3 cups beans)
(A pot of hot water on hand to add to beans if they start "drying" before done)

  • Add the hock (or turkey wing/piece) when you put on the beans and water. I start my beans in cold water. 
  • When your beans first reach a good simmer, add the baking soda, then all of the other ingredients just a bit at a time. You will go back and taste several times as the beans begin to form a juice. Add more seasonings to taste. Trick here is to cook slow and low, adjusting the cover as needed. 
  • When/if you need to add water, add only very hot or boiling water to match temp of the beans.
  • *The brown sugar is added to thicken bean juice. Begin adding (about a Tbl to 3 cup beans), little at a time if you notice beans are halfway to done but juice is not thickening. The flavor is nicer IMO than white sugar.

Both these recipes are passed down to me from my mother, who got them from her mother and so on. I have made changes to the beans - no "fried meat grease" and I go easier on the salt.

If you are sharing this food with someone (like me) who needs even less salt, you can leave the beans less salty and add a bit more to part of your hot-water cornbread - if they are being served together.


P.S.: My thinking has been a little iffy lately, so let me know if I need to clarify any part of the recipe.

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