Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Daily Beans! ~ Butter Beans & Southern Fried Chicken Fingers

     The Daily Beans!
     The Daily Beans has its roots in down home style cooking.  In the old wild west, beans were probably consumed more than any other kind of food.  Pioneers, gold prospectors, natives and cowboys all relied on beans.  Beans are a main staple in the modern world too, especially during poor economic times.  If there ever was a food item that could be considered to be the fuel that built a nation, then beans would certainly be it.
     In Southern states, slow simmered beans are often served as a side dish.  The choice of beans down south leans toward Red Beans, Black Beans, Lima Beans and Butter Beans.  This may be confusing to some, but Lima Beans and Butter Beans actually are two names for the same kind of bean.  Lima Beans are usually a pale green color or light beige color.  Butter Beans are most often a beige color.  Fordhook is a breed of Lima Beans that are fairly large and Butter Beans are usually this size or larger.  
     Southern Style Butter Beans are usually slow cooked till they are very tender.  Some of the Butter Beans are crushed while simmering and this creates a rich thick bean gravy.  Fat, bacon or ham are the classic choices for flavoring Butter Beans, but these beans naturally taste great on their own.  Usually a small amount of lard, bacon grease or oil is added to the Butter Beans as they simmer and this dramatically increases the flavor, while giving the pot a beans a shine that glistens.
     Traditionally a serving of The Daily Beans is a complete meal.  Meat is mixed with the beans and cornbread is served on the side.  Today's choice of meat accompaniment is Southern style fried chicken fingers.  Pan fried buttermilk and flour coated chicken fingers that are made from scratch look, taste and smell much better than any manufactured frozen breaded chicken finger product.  The savory flavor of Souther Fried Chicken Fingers tastes great with slow simmered tender Butter Beans!      

     Butter Beans:
     This recipe yields about 6 cups.  (Enough for 3 hearty portions.) 
     Lima Beans and Butter Beans are the same thing.  The name of the bean is just a matter of personal preference, but Butter Beans are usually are larger than Frozen Green Lima Beans.  Butter Beans are almost always preferred to be a light beige color too.       
     Crushing a portion of the beans then adding them back to the pot will create a thick rich gravy when slow simmering Butter Butter beans for a long time. 
     Step 1:  Rinse and clean 1 pound of Dried Large Butter Beans under cold running water.
     Place the Butter Beans in a container.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 3" of extra liquid.
     Soak the beans overnight in a refrigerator.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the soaked Butter Beans.
     Place the soaked beans in a pot.
     Add 2 cups 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 small chopped onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of bacon grease.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.  (to taste)
     Step 5:  Place a lid on the pot.
    Gently simmer till the Butter Beans just start to become tender.
    *The Butter 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 2/3 cup of the Butter 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 Butter 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 or the bean gravy is too thick.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary. 
     Keep the Butter Beans warm over very low heat or chill them for later use.

     Southern Fried Chicken Fingers:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (5 fingers)
     Step 1:  Select 5 chicken breast tenders.
     Use a meat mallet to slightly flatten the chicken tenders.
     Step 2:  Place 1/2 cup of buttermilk in a mixing bowl and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Place 1 1/3 cups of flour in a second mixing bowl.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Mix the ingredients together and set the bowl aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lard or bacon grease.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil, so the level of oil is about 3/8" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 5:  Dredge the chicken tenders in the seasoned flour.
     Dip the tenders in the buttermilk.
     Dredge the chicken tenders in the flour a second time.
     Step 6:  Place the coated chicken tenders side by side in the skillet.
     Pan fry till they are crispy golden brown on both sides and fully cooked.
     Step 7:  Place the fried chicken tenders on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the Southern Fried Chicken Tenders warm on a stove top.

     The Daily Beans! ~ Butter Beans & Southern Fried Chicken Fingers:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Daily Beans is usually served with cornbread on the side.  There are several pan fried cornbread recipes in this website or use your favorite baked cornbread recipe.
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/4 cups of the Butter Beans with a portion of the bean gravy in a wide shallow soup bowl.
     Place the 5 Southern Fried Chicken Fingers on top of the beans, so they point out from center.
     Step 2:  Sprinkle 1 bias sliced green onion over the chicken fingers and beans.
     Garnish with a Curly Leaf Parsley sprig.
     Step 3:  Serve with cornbread and a bottle of hot sauce on the side.

     Viola!  A big hearty bowl of Southern style Daily Beans! 

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