Monday, July 25, 2005

J. Frank Dobie's Frijoles (A Historical Perspective on a Tex-Mex Standard)

J. Frank Dobie's Frijoles (A Historical Perspective on a Tex-Mex Standard)

I cooked these over the weekend, and made them without any meat (forgot to add the salt pork). I also didn't have any little chili peppers to add in. They were wonderful without either! I have also enjoyed them with the pork and peppers. You decide what's best for you. The magic ingredient, however, is the honey - don't leave that one out! Cornbread and beans (served with a little chow-chow relish) are a wonderful and filling meal... although, they might fill you with a bit of prairie wind! This recipe is in my family cookbook, but it didn't originate there. My relative found it in "Canyon Echo's, Prairie Dog Pete", and shared it with us. The title of the article is the title of my post. Enjoy!

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Dobie was born in 1888 in Live Oak County in deep south Texas where the legendary Longhorn was making it's last stand as an untamed symbol of Texas. In the same area he learned much of the vivid lore of the state's early days from the old time vaqueros. An historian and naturalist, Dobie spent most of his adult years as a Professor of English at the University of Texas in Austin. He received many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 (the same year he died in his sleep at age 76). He was a prolific writer, well known for capturing the legends and history of the Lone Star State.

Beans are the staple in Hispanic diets and this is how Dobie once described his favorite way of preparing them.

"It's hard to find old time red beans, but you can buy pinto beans in pound packages. First pick out the rocks and wash the beans. Rocks are less numerous than they used to be. Wash the beans twice in warm water. I like to soak them all night and start cooking the next morning.

Cook two hours or so and then add some ham hock or salt pork. When the ham hock has cooked for an hour or so, add two or three good-sized onions, whole. At this time or a little later, add a half-cup of honey. The tangier the honey, the more savory the beans will be. It's better not to add it until the beans are fairly soft. Add salt if you need it.

Summer and Fall when the little red Mexican peppers, Chili Petinas (pequins) are in season, I like to put in a dozen or so.

A big plate of frijoles with lots of onion, chili petinas and corn bread, with honey or sorghum to go with the corn bread make a balanced and strengthening diet. The chilies have lots of vitamins."

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*I ADD TO RECIPE: a bit extra honey (to taste), salt & pepper, celery salt, garlic salt, garlic powder, and season salt - last time it was "soul food seasoning". The pequins make it a bit hot - so if you like more mild beans, just add in a few, or none at all. I bake Jiffy brand cornbread (it's sweet enough to not need added honey) and serve it with real butter to go along with my beans. Chow chow is an added luxury when I have stuff to make it. Before, I have used pickled banana peppers and jalapenos chopped up instead. Sometimes the kids will just eat a dill pickle with their bowl of beans. Do whatever your family wishes!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I ran across your blog sites. (both of them!) Thanks for your ministry to others.
If you ever get the chance, I'd love to know the recipe to your Chow-Chow. (My grandmother had a recipe she used and, yes, we ate it with homemade beans!) She has left us now and no one has the recipe since it was kept in her head.
Thanks again.

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Anonymous! :) I will look at the family cook book and see if I can find a chow chow recipe that's any good. I had leftover beans today, and I really think these beans would make EXCELLENT refried beans with Mexican food if you have leftovers!