Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Southern Cooking Staples

It is hard to believe, but I have now lived in the South the exact amount of time I had lived in my native Ohio (22 years). And, over the years I have learned to do some Southern cooking. I didn't even know what a collard green was until I moved to North Carolina!

In recent months, I have discovered the infamous "Crock Pot." I have used crock pots on occasion in the past, but now-a-days I keep my biggest one on the counter top at all times. It is a cooking staple for folks with busy schedules. Over the weekend I cooked beef tips and gravy. The weekend before it was the ever-so-popular pintos and ham hocks -- very much a Southern thing and a family favorite. 

There is nothing like cooking meat in a slow cooker, too. The slower the better....it will just melt in your mouth.

Tip:  Looking for a way to save money when you cook?  I read recently that if you use a crock pot for 10 hours of cooking, it will only cost you 50 cents! 

Julie's Pork and Pintos -- I use a large crock pot like this one to make hearty meals.
For this blog post, I thought I would share the pork and pinto beans recipe I mentioned earlier. Now, to make the meal complete, don't forget to include a box of Jiffy cornbread (or your favorite recipe) to go along with it. I will warn you that if you are watching your salt intake, you might want to hold back on the cured ham hocks and choose a different pork option, but according to my family this is what makes it so good. What I love about this recipe is that it is easy. Just toss everything in and forget about it -- and walla' -- a hearty meal for supper! Enjoy and get crockin'!

Julie's Pinto Beans and Ham Hocks
(Cooking Time:  8-10 hours)

Items you will need:
1 lb. bag of dry pinto beans
2 meaty cured ham hocks
One medium onion, chopped
2 Tbl. Garlic (minced)
2 Tbl. Ground Cumin
Plenty of coarse ground black pepper to taste
7-8 cups of water
(I use my bigger Crock to make this recipe -- see picture)

Prep the night before:  The night before you start cooking, place the pinto beans in the crock to soak overnight with plenty of water.

In the morning after beans have soaked in water all night, drain the water off and place the beans back in to the Crock Pot. Add all of the ingredients, including the 7-8 cups of water, and stir. Put the lid on and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. The mixture will thicken nicely as it cooks. About 30 minutes before your cooking is completed, take the ham hocks out and remove the meat from the bones and place the meat back into the crock pot for the remaining cooking time. Discard bones. While the meat warms back up, bake your Jiffy cornbread (takes about 15 minutes).

Now how simple is that for a hardy supper?! 

As I try new Crock Pot recipes that are really really good and really really easy, I'll be sure to share them.