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Monday, January 9, 2017

Bean Pie and Cornbread

Baby, it’s cold outside!  Time to clean the oven and fill it with some Southwestern chow.  Wait a sec…I need to separate the words South and West and even add in a little continental flavor.

Continental?  Yep, you’ll need some Spanish chorizo.  First question:  How does Spanish chorizo differ from Mexican chorizo?  Mexican chorizo is soft, like hamburger or pork sausage.  Spanish chorizo is cased and smoked.  It’s more solid (like Salami) than Mexican style.  Can’t find Spanish chorizo? Use chorizo from Puerto Rico, which is very similar.

After discussing chorizo, or cuisine in general, you can see why I don’t like to use the terms Hispanic or Latino.  It’s not only the cooking that’s different in every country, but also the culture, even if the language is similar.  Did you know Spanish is the main language in parts of Africa and also on some islands in the Philippines? 

I saw a U.S. Marine jogging, wearing a t-shirt that read, “Not Latino, not Hispanic, Mexican!”  Sums it up perfectly.  And while we’re on the subject, did you realize many in our armed forces are not American citizens?  My son’s soccer coach in Okinawa Japan was a Marine from Nigeria.  Another kids’ soccer coach was from Jamaica.  According to the Migration Policy Institute, ( over 65,000 non-citizen, long-term residents, currently serve, forming about 5% of our armed forces.  Having foreigners serve in military has been ongoing since the beginning of our country. Let’s not forget the foreigners who served in our military during our war for independence from England and don’t forget the Civil War (also called The War of Northern Aggression!), when over 1.5 million soldiers were non-citizens.

Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s pour a glass of wine, slosh down a few sips…or maybe a beer (from any country you damn well choose), or a Margarita (daisy), which we all know comes from Mexico.  Or does it?  The truth is, nobody knows for sure!  Come-on, you lazy liquorteer, in your brief moments of sobriety, do a little Googling! Don’t make me teach you EVERYTHING!

But, I will show you how to feed yourself and at the same time impress your feckless friends.  Plus, these recipes are so simple you can make the whole meal with a beer in each hand and carry on a conversation with your wife. Stick with very simple words, such as ‘Yes, dear’ and ‘Wow, great idea’ and ‘But not as cute as you.’

Here’s my version of Bean Pie accompanied by cornbread:

Bean Pie

Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)

1 Can pinto beans with jalapeños, undrained
1 Can kidney beans, drained and washed
1 Can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
6-7 inch stick of Spanish chorizo, casing removed, and cut into thin rounds
½ Cup chicken broth (I use a full packet of dried chicken broth and ½ Cup water.)
1 Heaping teaspoon powdered cumin
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ Cups grated jack or pepper jack cheese (or any other hard cheese that’s handy)

In a large skillet, drop in a little oil and sauté the chorizo on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Remove the chorizo from the pan and add the chopped onions.  Stir for a few minutes until the onions are limp.  Add the garlic, cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Stir and cook a few minutes more.

Add the beans and the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and cook 3-4 minutes.

Put the bean mixture into a 9x13x2 baking dish and spread chorizo, tomato and cheese over the top.  Bake until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

(Same oven temp as for the Bean Pie)

Use the directions on the side of the cornmeal container, or the fearless men and women of great courage will march into the great unknown using my directions.

1 ¼  Cup yellow cornmeal
1 Cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 Eggs
¼ Cup sugar
1 Cup milk
¼ Cup vegetable oil + a little oil to grease the baking pan

Spread some oil around the skillet or other pan you’re using to bake the cornbread.  Pop the pan into the preheated oven.

Mix all the dry ingredients, then make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, whip together the eggs, milk, and oil.  Pour the milk mixture into the well and mix.  If the mixture is a little too juicy, sprinkle in a little bit more cornmeal and remix.  The batter should be much thicker than pancake batter, but still pour into the well-heated pan, with a little help from a spatula.

Bake for about 22 minutes.  Should be brown on top and a knife inserted in the center should come out with a light sheen of oil, but clean of batter.

Now call the hungry masses to the table…or maybe just one more glass of wine first?  “Now what was that again honey?  You think I’m wonderful?  Gosh, I get that all the time.  I…I…I mean from you!”

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