Ok ladies and gentlemen. If you like beans, and you like cornbread, this is for you! Ok…. I love cornbread, but I do not like beans. It’s a texture thing with me. They feel gritty and I just can’t do it.
What is really funny though, is I get rave reviews on my beans and cornbread. From Southerners! The Community Center ladies even left me in charge of the kitchen to make all the beans and cornbread for a fundraiser we were having. I fed several hundred Southerners that long day in the kitchen. And everyone loved it! My husband still laughs about his Yankee wife taking over the Southern Kitchen…. successfully.
The recipes are my sweet Mama Mabel’s, handed down from her mother. Both are absolute winners!
For the beans: The night before, dump a 1 lb bag of brown beans into a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover by a few inches. Leave them be.
In the morning, drain the beans and put in a large pot or better yet, Dutch oven. Cast iron is your friend here. Fill with cold water, several inches above the beans. Now, add 3T dried minced onion, 1t black pepper, and 1/2t cayenne pepper. Cut several thick slices from a block of salt pork, using about half. (Found in the meat dept with the ham and such) Stir all this up, cover, and bring to a hard boil over high heat. Allow to boil hard over med-hi for 30 minutes. Stir well, re-cover, and turn heat down to keep at a gentle boil.
You are going to want to stir frequently. This helps “develop the soup” as Mama says. The water level will drop, but the beans should always be covered, so add water as needed, making sure you bring it back to a boil. Keep this up 4 to 5 hours, til the beans are totally tender in a thick soup. Taste it. The salt pork should provide enough salt, but if not, add some. If it seems bland, add another 1/4t cayenne pepper. You can turn it off at this point, and just heat it up when you’re ready.
At 40 min before you eat, make some cornbread! Preheat oven to 425 F. Get out your cast iron skillet.
When the oven is heated, put 3T Crisco in the iron skillet and put it in the oven to melt and heat up.
In a large bowl, whisk 1C cornmeal, 1/2C flour, 2T sugar, 1T baking powder, and 1t salt. Make a well in the center. In another bowl whisk 1-1/2C buttermilk and 2 eggs. Pour the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture well and beat with a wooden spoon til just combined. Carefully take the hot skillet out of the oven and pour the batter in. Return to the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes til browned and done. Let cool 10 minutes, cut in 8 wedges, and serve with hot “beans and soup.”
Some people crumble the cornbread in their bowl and ladle the beans over it. Some eat it buttered on the side. I just eat the bread.