True Confessions of a Mid-Life Cook

There's a definite correlation between my profound love of music and how and what I've taught myself to cook. My favorite music to listen to and to perform is soulful, sensual, sometimes funky and always bluesy in nature . . . and that's exactly how I cook. I like to get my hands in the food. I chop, I knead, I stir with my hands. Sometimes I wear my big rimmed cowboy hat, nightie and Old Gringo boots in kitchen, sometimes a coonskin cap when the mood strikes and sometimes just an apron and a smile. Using the freshest of ingredients, I love to bringing a new spirit to old favorites. I am so to drawn dishes seeping in both Texas and Southern tradition,with a special affinity for those authentic old jewels found in South Louisiana.
Because they, too, are so powerfully soulful?

I've discovered being a good cook is a journey and not a destination. (Yes, I stole an over-used corporate slogan and made it my own--but it's still the truth) Every time we screw up, we learn. And in part, that's what this blog is about. Cooking fearlessly. With heart, with soul -- and with some damn good music to inspire. (If your three layer chocolate cake ends up looking like a Jerry Springer rerun or you cut the tip of your thumb off while making New Year's Day gumbo, WHO CARES?Proclaim Francine Reed's "I'm a Handful" your theme song. She would like that.)
We cook because we find ourselves kinda empty if we don't.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Butter Beans - MMMMMMmmmmm

My absolute favorite legume next to black eyed peas, butter beans are the only beans I cook without a ham bone or ham hock.  None is required  -- for slow cooked butter beans make their own irresistibly thick gravy.

But like all beans and peas, butter beans do need some type of pork fat to take the taste to soaring heights.  I happen to use bacon.  And ham. And last night a left over pork chop just because. And I have used the wonderfully Cajun andouille sausage before.  I haven't actually written out this recipe in exact measurements, but just loosen up and just go with it a little bit, you're sure to make the best butter beans ever.

One package bacon, all fried and chopped into small pieces and grease retained.
One package of butter beans.
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 large bell pepper, I used red last night, chopped fine
About 4 to 5  oz. of ham if you have it, chopped
About 5 generous shakes of Zatarain's Cajun Spice
Big pinch of marjaram
A little celery salt and/or a tablespoon of chopped celery leaves
Bigger pinch or two of poultry seasoning
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
Cayenne pepper, three or four shakes
3 bay leaves
About two generous teaspoons Lowry's Seasoned Salt
2 tsp black pepper

In crock pot cover beans with water (should be an inch or little more water over beans) Add a beer. Add about a tablespoon of bacon drippings.  Add all other ingredients except for last two, set crock pot to high and cover. Check on periodically to make sure there is enough liquid.  If not, add a little more water or beer.
Cook about three hours. Uncover and stir in Lowry's and black pepper. Cover and turn to low for a couple of more hours until beans are very tender and liquid has cooked down a bit. DON'T overdo it. You don't want to cook them to mush, they need to retain some texture.

Take out the bay leaves and let cool a little to thicken.
Now have at it.

OMG - It's like eating dessert, isn't it???
Suggested listening: Kevin Fowler's 'Butterbean'


The Chef In My Head said...

Thank Goodness you said crockpot and not pressure cooker. I still have childhood fears, my mother yelling "stay away, that could scar you for life!!" Now I ask you, who in their right mind would want to risk that?? My husband will love this recipe, great post! I will be back again and again! ~LeslieMichele

Tavern on the Concho said...

LM- So glad you like it. I'm getting the hang of this blogging. I just need to get a better understanding of how the advertising works!! Any insight?