Tag Archives: pinto beans

Bacon Apple Fritter Strata With Oatmeal Crumble

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For those that know me, it is commonplace for me to share potential recipe ideas. My wife tells me that all I think about is food. She’s right.

I’m always concerned about the next meal. I anguish over what I want to cook. It’s not that I’m some kind of culinary genius. I’m not. I just like variety and our meal plan is nothing like what my mom instituted when I was young.

She was driven by what was cheapest, as am I, but you had a pretty good idea that Sunday was fried chicken, roast beef on Saturday, and the other days of the week were filled with spaghetti, salmon patties, meatloaf, and boiled Eckrich sausage and white rice.

She instituted variety, but the rotation of dishes was very tight. My meal rotation is quite loose where it might be weeks before you repeat a meal, or I may become obsessed with a certain ingredient (like pasta or pinto beans), and we eat practically the same meal for eleven days straight.

In the meantime, I’m always seeking out new recipes or creating my own. My dad would call it concocting while I prefer the term, developing. His bologna pasta is a concoction (and a disgusting one at that). A one-off. Something you pray you never encounter again.

When I consider recipe development, I revisit a recipe to improve upon it.  One recipe that needs some tweaking is my maple cake with mocha frosting.  It tastes good as it is, but there are some characteristics I would like to improve upon.

I’m also reminded of my pinto bean recipe.  I know you may think that beans are beans, but they aren’t.  This is about the best pinto beans I’ve ever had, but that doesn’t keep me from trying to make these legumes better.

Well, I had similar sentiments from my family when I made that strawberry-jalapeño pie. I think I know where I went wrong, so I’m considering a attempt which will bring this creation from a concoction to a development. I just hope it isn’t an abomination.

I was feeling sweet strata, so after three days of scheming, I finally brought my idea into the kitchen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did thinking about it.

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Ingredients:

6 Krispy Kreme apple fritters, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 dozen extra large Eggland’s Best Eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup Hormel Real Bacon Bits

For crumble topping:

2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
3/4 cup Country Crock spreadable butter with canola oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chopped fritters onto a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes so they are toasted.

Combine eggs, milk, sea salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a bowl with a fork or whisk.

Spray 9×11 pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with fritter cubes.

Pour egg mixture over fritter cubes and sprinkle bacon evenly over the top.

Combine ingredients for the crumble topping with your hand and spread mixture evenly over strata.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until done.

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All photos courtesy of Stacy Crumpley.
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Some Serious Baked Beans

I may be a slow learner, but this is the third time I made baked beans this week. The first batch was amazing, but I wasn’t following the recipe closely. Last night’s were a bummer, but today’s batch of beans will be a triumph.

One of my favorite treats happens to be baked beans. Most of the time I’ll punch up a can of Bush’s, but I have made baked kidney beans a couple of times.

I know, it sounds awkward like the time my dad tried to tell me about…well, you know…the birds and the bees? I was fourteen and I think he actually talked about birds and bees.

He certainly didn’t teach me anything I haven’t heard in school. The kidney beans are more enjoyable than that distant memory, but they have nothing on the traditional navy beans.

Baked pinto beans are another story, though. I always have pinto beans on hand and the skin is a little tougher than the navy beans, but their subtle flavor and creamy texture allow the mingling of sugars and pig fats to take center stage.

This recipe is similar to a recipe I found on Food Network, but I think the small alterations I made are quite enjoyable.

Ingredients

3 cups pinto beans, sorted and soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
2 slices salt pork, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 link smoked sausage, quartered and chopped (andouille works nicely)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Hatch chili powder
1 teaspoon Gebhardt chili powder
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chicken base
3 Mezzetta peperoncini peppers

Method

Sauté meat in a cast iron Dutch oven to render the delicious fat.

Add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent. Season with black pepper and Tony Chachere’s.

Add both chili powders, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, chicken base, and peperoncini peppers.

Add beans and four cups of water to combine.

Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on the stove for about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water as needed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the lid and place in oven for the last hour of cooking so it thickens up as only baked beans can do.

Salt to taste and enjoy by itself or maybe with some nice greens.

I dunno if you can call them baked beans with only an hour in the oven, but last night I baked them for five hours and they tasted sad and unfulfilled. Today’s beans were delicious.

The Cotton Boll Grill

Confident that my rheumatologist is nearing an explanation for my ailments, Heather and I decided to celebrate with lunch. Besides, I always get hungry when I have an appointment.

It’s been about a year since we visited The Cotton Boll Grill at 1624 Fairfield Ave. It’s not that we had a poor experience, we just aren’t in this part of town often and the restaurant closes at three.

As we sit down, the waitress comes by and asks, “Do you two know what–” Fried chicken! I never gave her a chance to get the words out. The waitress was taken aback and laughed. She returned shortly with the special of the day. Why can’t they sell fried chicken everyday?

I feel it is only fair to mention that this establishment has fallen to second place since I last visited. The current champion of fried chicken is Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis, TN. Serious chicken. I wake up in a cold sweat like a panicked heroin addict in a shooting gallery and nothing but collapsed veins.

Gus’s satisfies an itch that you can’t scratch. Have your adenoids ever itched where you have to snarl your face and throat? Gus’s is more effective with their fried chicken. The Cotton Boll won’t soothe any itching adenoids, but it cures dry mouth and scurvy.

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I always have time for fried chicken.

That zing you taste is flavor, baby. It definitely has some cayenne to wake you up. You wanna know the Portuguese translation? FLAVOR. Actually, I think it’s cayenne, but I’m no linguist.

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See that orangish color under the skin? That’s flavor.

The potatoes were mediocre, but the pinto beans and blackeyed peas were delicious.  Besides, I don’t remember coming here for the mashed potatoes.  If I came for the potatoes, I would expect some top shelf spuds.

There aren’t many establishments in Shreveport that I would consider good eats.  I don’t normally get excited about food unless it’s exceptional.  This chicken is exceptional.

Best. Pinto Beans. Ever.

I know I’m making big claims, but I know you will be hard pressed to find better beans elsewhere.  I grew up on Great Northern beans where the seasoning consisted of diced ham, chopped onion, salt, and pepper.  That’s how my mom cooked them.  Great Northern beans are a very neutral legume, so this simple preparation is satisfactory.  They used to be my favorite, but after a couple of years testing out different pinto bean preparations, I have decided that I would much rather have pintos.

Pinto beans are also versatile.  I’ll have a bowl of beans.  I’ll make refried beans with leftovers to enjoy with eggs.  Leftovers find their way into chilis, stews, and even spaghetti.  If you have a great recipe that calls for beans, these lowly beans will elevate the the dish to levels that cannot otherwise be attained.

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds dried pinto beans

2 beef short ribs

1 bell pepper

1 stalk celery

1 anaheim chile

1 white onion

1 link andouille sausage

2 strips bacon (finely chopped)

1 tablespoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme (I usually use dried thyme leaves, but this is what I had on hand)

1 teaspoon mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 teaspoons chimayo blend chile (more on this later)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup red wine

7 cloves garlic-minced

2 tablespoons beef base

2 teaspoons cumin

1 can Rotel

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 

Method

Sort and soak beans in water the night before.  Rinse thoroughly before you are ready to cook.

Chop all vegetables and set aside.

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Pre-measuring spices can save some effort later. I have to do this if I’m measuring spices. I never do. I just toss them in as I see fit. That wouldn’t be a very good recipe to share, though.

Measure seasonings. (paprika, thyme, oregano, white pepper, chimayo blend chile, and black pepper.  (I purchased this Chimayo blend chile online from New Mexico.  They are known for their Hatch chiles and I want to do everything possible to make my beans taste great.  I’m merely sharing where I bought my chile powder because I like the product.  If you want to use something better than McCormick, that is one place to look.  By the way, I use many different McCormick products.  They’re great.  When you find something even better, you need to snatch that opportunity.)  Save the cumin until later as cooking it too long can make it bitter.  Add seasonings to a bowl for a later step.

the Maillard reaction is beautiful to behold.
The Maillard reaction is beautiful to behold.

Preheat pot.  I use a cast iron dutch oven for my beans and it has served me well.  Once heated, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Salt and pepper beef short ribs and brown.  Remember the Maillard reaction I described in my jambalaya recipe?  This is important for flavorful beans.  Typically, the meat will initially stick to the bottom of the pan.  After it has formed that crust, or scab, the meat will release.  At that point, you can turn the meat to brown the other sides.  If you are really patient, you can brown the edges with the aid of tongs.

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I love the smell of meat in the morning. Or ever.

Remove the ribs and set aside.  Hopefully, you have prechopped the andouille.  I prefer Manda, but Savoie’s is a good choice.  Cut it lengthwise.  Then cut the two halves lengthwise again.  Now you can dice it up into small triangle-ish pieces.  Add the andouille and finely chopped bacon to brown.

Add vegetables to increase taste factor.

At this point, add chopped vegetables and cook to soften.  Once the vegetables are about halfway done, add the garlic and short ribs.  You don’t want to add the garlic too soon or it could turn bitter.  All vegetables will be ready for the next stage once the onion is translucent.

 

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We are about to have some beautiful bean footage.

Add 1/2 cup red wine (I had some Bordeaux on hand).  I don’t drink, but I often cook with alcohol.  Never use cooking wine.  It is inferior.  I don’t know how to judge wines, but I figure a $10-$15 wine will work nicely).  Deglaze pot with wine and add in beans, spice blend, and Rotel.  Fill pot with water and simmer slowly for about an hour.

At this point, you can add cumin.  (I actually have a spice blend that I got in Honduras.  I know the main ingredient is cumin, but I have not identified the others.  For all I know it’s ground coca leaves.)  You also want to add the beef base.  I’ve used both the powdered and pudding-like base.  I like the latter one better, but the former is easier to store and doesn’t take up valuable refrigerator space.

This is a good time to remove the beef ribs to cool.  Once cooled, dice up what little meat is there and reintroduce to the bean pot.

Simmer around another 1/2 hour to an hour and you have an incredible pot of beans.

These beans go terrific with flour tortillas or buttery cornbread.

This is my recipe that I finally wrote down to minimize variation.  Feel free to share it, but please credit me accordingly.  Also, if you have a better recipe, I’ll be glad to try it out.

 

Dinnertime.
Dinnertime.

 

Feeding the Masses

I am spending my day at Common Ground Community (CGC) today. CGC is a faith-based organization and It’s quiet as I’m the only one here. This evening will resemble a three ring circus with kids running loose and parents being ministered to by our volunteers. I’m in charge of tonight’s meal.

I guess I’ve been volunteering here close to three years. I typically volunteer to create supper one Thursday a month. I think volunteering here and with Mercy Chefs are what helped me become comfortable with catering. It’s only a fledgling business and I’m not looking to make millions, just enough to contribute to our household so we can finally melt that debt snowball.

Most people who come here don’t know who I am or what I do. I like it that way. I hope they came for Jesus, but I’m sure many just come to get some of their basic needs met.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to volunteer here as my wife and children have told me that on several occasions, they have heard people whine and disparage my food.

They hear this while serving the members of this community. I ignored what they said for a couple of years and kept making things like spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, BBQ chicken, and homemade bread. Along with the main courses were various sides and desserts. I usually don’t go all out on the sides, but the main courses and desserts have always been from scratch.

A couple of months ago, we were short handed. After I was done in the kitchen I went to serve meals. We serve cafeteria style to feed everyone quickly. That night I heard many negative remarks and only one positive remark. I’m not here to boost my ego, but I hope all of my effort is well received. I’m wasting everyone’s time if nobody wants to eat it.

After this experience, I looked back on my experiences with Mercy Chefs I served in Kenner, LA after a hurricane, West, TX after a plant explosion. (I think that was a feed plant.) I even spent time in Colorado after last year’s flooding. We have served thousands of meals and I have never heard anything negative on any of these adventures. There was only gratitude. Again, this isn’t about some pity trip I’m on. I’m just making observations.

I believe that the victims of disasters are so grateful because they just lost everything. The people I encounter in this neighborhood are victims of the system.

This system encourages government dependence. This system holds very little value for dads or for families with both a mom and a dad. This system encourages thug life where eight year olds try to act like their favorite hardcore rapper wif diamonds in their teefs.

Granted, there are many who come here and are struggling to raise their children properly. To raise them to have respect for their elders. To raise them to have respect for themselves.

Society as a whole can get locked in a groupthink mentality where they think it is best to throw money at the problem. To give handouts. CGC, a Bible believing organization, now appears to be transitioning from a handout system to one that encourages the individual to help himself. I’m not a fan of clichés but in a sense, to give a ‘hand up.’

Since hearing feedback firsthand for the food I expended so much love to prepare, I’m in a sort of transition. Maybe I should cook something more fundamental. Last month I made Hoppin’ John, a dish consisting of blackeyed peas and rice. Today, I’m making pinto beans and rice. Don’t worry, I’m going to have cornbread, too.

I still expend the same energy shopping, chopping, and cooking. These beans are going to taste out of this world, but for now, I’m offering two basic meals that we enjoy every week at home: beans and rice and rice and beans.

I can feed them today, but I hope they find the Bread of Life where they will never hunger again.