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Monday, October 13, 2008

Red Beans and Rice and Hoecake-It's Monday

If you live down South, you're gonna cook beans 'n rice on Mondays. You can go to just about any restaurant on a Monday and it's gonna be on the menu,too. Mondays were wash days. You've seen those big cast iron cauldrons, well those were used for a lot of things, one being to clean your clothes. And since laundry took all day, and the little woman still had to feed her huge family, she could simmer beans while taking on the huge task of wash day. This is how my family cooks them:
I use Camellia brand, personal choice, I think they're much better ,the 2 pound bag. Start soaking these the night before, or at least 8-12 hours ahead of time. I like to change the water out a few times, it takes a lot of the "gas" out, lol!! Don't do that little trick of adding baking soda to get the gas out, it does something to the taste, in my opinion. I like to buy a package of bacon, and cut it in half, and use half for my beans, save the other half for something Monday's beans,maybe :) lol If you save bacon grease for cooking, use a few spoons of that instead. If you've baked a ham, and saved the bone, use it instead. It's the fat that flavors and tenderizes the beans, and gives it that special flavor. (after the beans have cooked, you can chill it and scoop some fat out if you want) After you rinse the beans a last time, put enough water in to cover them by a couple inches. Now at this point, some people will cook the bacon over a low flame before they add it to the pot, and saute the onions and garlic in the pan of bacon. This is good,too. I prefer to put the uncooked bacon in my pot, and add onions and garlic. Don't add any salt til the beans are tender. Salt will keep the beans from getting nice and tender,and you need them nice and tender! You can add the pepper. You can throw in a bay leaf, but most of the time I don't use one. Make sure you remove the bay leaf before serving. Cook up some rice, for 5 people I cook 4 cups of rice. Now, you'll want to make some hoecake...and generally a hoecake is made with cornmeal. They call it hoecake because workers in the field back in the day would mix this up and cook it on their hoe. However, my Granny always made her hoecake with flour. I use Bisquick for this, lol! And it's ok, it tastes like the real deal, and is much easier. Just dump about 2 cups of Bisquick into a bowl, and add some milk til it's mixed and still sticky. Heat up your cast iron pan, or whatever you make your pancakes in, and drop in about half the dough. It's going to get golden brown on the bottom, and then flip it over with your pancake turner and cook the other side. We like to spread butter on it while it cooks. It'll cook pretty much like a pancake.

So, you need:
For Beans
a 2 lb. bag of red kidney beans
a half lb. of bacon
a large onion, sliced or chopped
a toe of garlic,diced
bay leaf
salt and pepper

Rice, cooked

For Hoecake
Bisquick and milk

The reason I make 2 pounds, is so I can keep half of the beans to make chili out of later. You can freeze them until you're ready to make that chili. And I use Wick Fowlers 2 alarm chili kit. Except I add a lot more diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. This is AWESOME chili :) And a good way to stretch the food budget.
Put the beans in a Dutch oven or other big pot, add enough water to cover beans by two or three inches. Put your fire on want to gently simmer beans. So make sure they don't hard boil. Another thing...try not to stir unless you have to! When they're about done, you can smash some up to make the beans thick. The more you smash,the thicker it gets. This is all personal preference. Some like the beans to be like a soup. I don't. Some like them really thick like a stew. I don't. I like mine somewhere in the middle, creamy,where it just sticks to the rice:)
Now, some recipes call for some other ingredients, but this is what I like the best, just bacon,onions, and garlic. You can use dried minced onions, dried minced garlic, or onion powder and garlic powder. It just tastes best with the real onion and real garlic.
Make sure the water never boils out, the beans have to stay covered. You want them to get tender. You don't want them to scorch. A lot of people these days cook them all day in a crock pot. I won't but my friend does, and hers come out great. Besides bacon, she puts sliced link sausage in hers. This will make a nice smoky flavor.
A warning....these smell will make your mouth water and your tummy rumble while you smell these cooking. In fact, the whole neighborhood is gonna come ask what smells so good??!!?? Your family is gonna ask is dinner ready YET??!!!??

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