Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Daily Beans! Lima Beans & Smithfield Ham with Pan Fried Jalapeño Cornbread

     The Continuing Saga Of The Daily Beans!
     The Daily Beans is an old expression that has its roots in humble meals cooked during poor economic times.  A meal like this brings back fond memories of simpler times when fed a family for pennies on the dollar kept the loved ones together.  The Daily Beans was also a cheap meal for those who's luck took a turn for the worse.  Restaurants that served cheap meals in the 1930's were known as "Beaneries" and as one can imagine, these eateries were quite busy during the Great Depression.  A simple bowl of Beans & Ham was something to be thankful for when earning only a few pennies a day.  
     The Daily Beans is a daily special du jour at the old fashioned 24/7 diner restaurant in the Binion's Casino, Las Vegas.  At Binion's, the bowl of Daily Beans is always overflowing.  The cooks always allow the bowl of beans to overflow over the rim of the bowl onto the plate and this creates an awesome presentation, especially since this simple meal is served with a big piece of baked cornbread on the side.  From what I heard from some of the old timers, in the old days the Daily Beans was offered to gamblers that lost their shirt, because the owner never wanted to see an unlucky customer go away hungry.  
     When money flows freely, food choices tend to focus less on the basics.  Eating exotic gourmet food does become tiresome in more ways than one.  Often the body protests about dietary habits long before the mind realizes what is best.  Sooner or later, a craving for a simple comfortable meal that makes one appreciate the food on the table comes on.  Times like this are when the Daily Beans really hits the spot!

     Lima Beans and Smithfield Ham:
     This recipe yields about 2 3/4 cups.  (Enough for 1 hearty overflowing portion.)  
     When dried large Lima Beans are slow simmered for a long time, they will create their own thick rich gravy. 
     Step 1:  Rinse and clean 1 2/3 cups of Dried Large Lima Beans under cold running water.
     Place the Lima Beans in a container.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 3" of extra liquid.
     Soak the Lima Beans overnight in a refrigerator.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the soaked Lima Beans.
     Place the soaked Lima Beans in a large sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 3" of extra liquid.
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil for 17 minutes.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 6 ounces of hand torn chunks of Smithfield Virginia Ham.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of bacon grease.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     *Do not add too much sea salt, because the ham is salted when cured.
     Step 5:  Place a lid on the pot.
    Gently simmer till the Lima Beans just start to become tender.
    *The Lima Beans will soak up plenty of water and some evaporation will occur.  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered with about 1/2" of extra liquid.  Stop adding water, when the beans can absorb no more water.
     Step 6:  Remove the lid from the pot.
     Place 1/2 cup of the Lima Beans in a mixing bowl.
     Thoroughly mash the beans.
     Return the mashed beans to the pot.
     Step 7:  Cover the pot with a lid.
     Continue simmering till the Lima Beans are very tender and the liquid turns into a medium thin bean gravy consistency.  (Only add water if there is not enough bean gravy to cover the beans.)
     *Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary. 
     Keep the Lima Beans & Smithfield Ham warm over very low heat.
     Pan Fried Jalapeño Cornbread:
     This recipe yields 5 spoon bread style corncakes!
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of corn meal in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of Masa Harina.  (Nixtamal Corn Flour.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Mix the dry ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place 1 large egg in a second mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of warm bacon grease.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced seeded green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1/3 cup of milk.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while slowly stirring.
     Stir till a very thick stiff dough starts to form.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of milk at a time, while kneading, till the thick dough is sticky to the touch.
     *The thick cornbread dough consistency is just right, when it is squeezed and the surface is moist enough to not show any cracks.
     Step 4:  Cover the mixing bowl with a lint free pastry towel.
     Let the thick cornbread dough stand for 15 minutes.  (The corn meal will soak up some of the excess moisture.)
     Step 5:  Divide the dough into 5 equal size portions.
     Press each portion of dough into a patty shape that is about 3/8" to 7/16" thick.
     Step 6:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of smoked bacon grease.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the level is about 1/4" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 325ºF to 350ºF.  
     Step 7:  Place a few of the Jalapeño Cornbread patties side by side in the hot oil.  (If necessary, fry in batches.)  
     Pan fry till the bottom side is fully cooked and golden brown.
     Use a slotted spatula to flip each cornbread over.
     Pan fry till the cornbread patties are fully cooked and golden brown on both sides.
     Step 8:  Set the Pan Fried Jalapeño Cornbread on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to remove any excess oil.
     Keep the pan fried cornbread cakes warm on a stove top.  
     The Daily Beans!  Lima Beans & Smithfield Ham with Pan Fried Jalapeño Cornbread:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Step 1:  Place a tall 2 1/4 cup capacity soup bowl on a serving plate.
     Step 2:  Overlap 2 to 3 of the Pan Fried Jalapeño Cornbread Cakes next to the bowl on the plate.
     Step 3:  Ladle the Lima Beans and Smithfield Ham into the soup bowl, till about 1/2 cup of the beans overflow onto the plate.  (Tilt the bowl slightly, so the beans overflow toward the front of the plate.)
     Step 4:  Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley leaves.
     *Serve with a small ramekin of salted butter and a bottle of hot sauce on the side. 

     The Daily Beans!  Southern style down home cookin' at its best!   

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