Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Daily Beans with Cornbread Fried In Chicken Grease

The daily beans and skillet fried corn bread!
     You may think there is nothing special about this recipe.  To me, this dish has special memories.  The first year I lived in Vegas was a "hand to mouth" experience.  I went to Vegas on a shoe string and I didn't have much of a bank roll.  I worked a few low paying jobs till I found better work.  Much of my income came from horse racing wagers.  During that time, I discovered that I could eat better and get more for my money by dining in casinos.  You can't buy food in a grocery store cheaper than a fully cooked meal or buffet at a casino!  Casinos use food as a promotional item.
     Downtown on Fremont Street is where the old Las Vegas still lives.  I fell in love with the old west atmosphere of Binion's Horseshoe Casino on Fremont.  The feel of the place and the very friendly staff was so comforting!  Binion's has great old fashioned food at a very modest price.
     The old fashioned snack diner by Binion's craps table pit had a hand written special that was posted on the daily menu board.  "The Daily Beans."  The beans changed daily.  Limas, pintos, black eyed peas, butter beans, navy beans or red beans were the choices from day to day.  Big pieces of roasted ham leg were cooked with the beans.  A huge piece of cornbread was served with The Daily Beans too.  The beans were ladled onto a bowl on a plate and the bowl was always over flowing.  It was a great, healthy meal for $1.50 and it filled up a hungry belly for a long time.  The atmosphere of that little diner by the craps tables is out of this world!  It is a great place to chow down and rub elbows!
     Recipe:  Keep in mind that this recipe is a pot of stewed beans and not a bean soup! 
     Soak some dried beans of your choice in water over night in a refrigerator.  (I used navy beans for the dish in the photo.)
     Rinse the beans in a strainer.
     Boil some water in a sauce pot and add the beans to the pot.
     Add some chopped onion and big chunks of roasted ham.
     Add a piece of salt pork.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.  (Don't add too much sea salt because the pork and ham are already salty.)
     Turn the heat to simmer.
     Cook till the beans are tender and a natural bean gravy is formed.
     Skillet Fried Cornbread Recipe:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium low heat.
     Mix 2 cups corn meal, 1 cup corn flour, a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of sea salt and some black pepper together in a mixing bowl.
     Add one beaten egg.
     Add a little bit of milk at a time while stirring till the cornbread mixture is like a loose bread dough.
     Let the mixture set for 15 minutes.
     The corn meal will soak up some of the liquid in the mix and the dough will be like a regular bread dough consistency.
     Pour some roasted or fried chicken grease and some vegetable oil in the hot skillet.
     Spoon a couple of big dollops of the cornbread dough into the hot grease.
     Press the cornbread dough with a spatula so it forms a flat, thick oval shape.
     Fry the cornbread in the grease till one side is fully cooked.
     Flip the cornbread with a spatula and cook the other side till it turns golden brown.
     Set the corn bread on a dry towel to remove the excess grease.
     Ladle the daily beans into a soup bowl and set the cornbread on the side.
     Wow, does this recipe make me home sick!  Beans and ham are a very popular home cooked meal.  The flavor of the chicken grease or ham grease that is used to skillet fry the cornbread becomes the flavor of the corn bread itself.  This corn bread is authentic southern style cooking.  The big tender chunks of ham go so well with beans.  This is a simple recipe that gets the most flavor from just a few ingredients.  A bottle of hot sauce is a nice accompaniment for this meal.  Binion's "The Daily Beans and Cornbread" is in a comfort zone all of its own!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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