October 17, 2009

Plan C Pinto Beans

Now that fall has arrived and is doing a very good impression of winter, I crave the kinds of foods that make you feel warm and cozy, and that fill the house with the scent of cooking.

Inspired by a chat with my parents, I really wanted a big pot of beans. And I was so proud of my organizational skills because I had all of the ingredients. I had the bag of dried pinto beans, a smoked ham hock, fixins for cornbread and assorted toppings.

However, after I’d sorted through the beans to pick out any possible stray stones and then set them on the stove for a quick soak, I learned that my preparations were foiled by the blasted ham hock, which had decided to grow a fine layer of icky fuzz. Lesson learned: smoked ham hocks actually can go bad.

No fears though. I had a Plan B because the grocery store just down the block from my place has a decent meat department.

Yeah. No dice. The darned store didn’t have a ham hock nor any other suitable replacement ingredients because it was Sunday and they were out of just about everything. Fabulous.

I huffed and puffed and kicked some pebbles around on the short walk home. After that mini-temper tantrum, I decided that this was not going to be the end of the world. I would be resourceful and follow my waste-not rule by using whatever I might have in the cupboards. The pot of beans might not be what my parents would typically make, but it would still be a darned good pot of beans.

Luckily, I remembered I had a container of McCormick’s smokehouse-flavored pepper. This is normal ground pepper, but with a bit of a flavor kick. Since the smoked ham hock had thwarted me, I figured this might make a decent substitute. I was right. Here's the approximate recipe.

Plan C Pinto Beans
- Makes about 8 servings
1 lb of dried pinto beans
1 can of Hunt’s Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 can of Ro*Tel
Smokehouse Ground Black Pepper from McCormick

Pick through the dried pinto beans to make sure there aren’t any fugitive rocks or icky beans. Rinse the beans (not the fugitive rocks and icky beans) in a colander. After rinsing, put the beans in a large pot filled with water about an inch over the beans and about a teaspoon of salt. Bring the beans to a fast boil and then let them soak, covered, for about an hour.

After the beans have soaked, make sure there’s enough water in the pot to keep the beans more than covered. Season the beans with one to two teaspoons of the smokehouse pepper and ½ a teaspoon to one teaspoon of salt.

Bring the beans to a boil again and let them simmer until the beans get nice and tender. This takes about two hours. Give or take.

Be sure to stir the beans occasionally. If too much water boils off, add more. You want to make sure that the beans can simmer easily and aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot or burning.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the beans, stir in the cans of Ro*Tel and Fire Roasted Tomatoes.

At this point, taste test the beans. You may want to add some pepper or salt.

Serve the beans in bowls with cornbread. Top it with your favorite fixins. I like shredded cheese, sour cream and chow-chow.


Disclosure: Hunt's Tomatoes and Ro*Tel are made by the company for which I work, ConAgra Foods.


caitlynrose said...

What is chow chow?

Steff Childs said...

It's a type of relish. My parents makes it with green tomatoes, cabbage and some other assorted veggies. Luckily, they sent me fresh provisions recently. yay!

martina said...
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