Sunday, June 09, 2013

If you're gonna eat that much butter, you'll have to rope a lot of cows!

Now y'all know that I love me some Pioneer Woman, but I was watching a recent episode, where she used almost a pound a butter, a brick of cream cheese, and heavy cream in her mashed potatoes, then put two more sticks of butter on one loaf of French bread, and  used the rest of that pound to drench two beef tenderloins. 

Then in yesterday's episode, she made a truck bed picnic lunch for her crew consisting of spicy roasted chicken legs, cowboy bacon beans, and mocha brownies with double-thick frosting for dessert. In this one meal, she used THREE POUNDS of butter plus a POUND of bacon! Granted, she was feeding a lot of people, and those people do hard, physical labor. But still...the Pioneer Woman, while a nice lady, might be trying to kill us.

So sure, I make fun of The Pioneer Woman and her predilection for a preponderance of butter. And yet, did she compel me to go immediately to the kitchen and start a big crock of sweet and spicy cowboy beans to serve over cheesy chive cornbread for dinner tonight? Yep, she did. Well played, PW, well played.

Crock Pot Cowboy Beans
(Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Cowboy Bacon Beans)

1/2 pound pork belly or bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper + 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb. beans of your choice (traditionally, pinto)
4-6 cups water (cover by at least an inch)
smoked ham hock
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon instant espresso, optional
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (up to one teaspoon, to taste)
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (I like the cilantro and lime variety)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard of your choice (I used spicy brown and grainy Dijon)
1/4 cup brown sugar, optional

Cook the pork belly or bacon pieces in a skillet over medium heat until just starting to brown. Add the peppers and onion and cook until tender, then toss in the garlic for a minute or two more. Scrape this mixture into the crock pot and add the rinsed beans, water, ham hock, bay leaves, chili powder, oregano, cumin, instant espresso (or swap out a cup of the water for brewed coffee), black pepper and salt. Cover and cook on high until the beans are tender--this took about 8-9 hours for me and my Rancho Gordo Good Mother Stallard beans. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Fish out the ham hock, remove the skin and gristle and chop the meat, then add it back to the beans. Stir in the Ro-tel, ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar, and cook for another hour or two on high.

Serve as a side dish to grilled meats or over cornbread, garnished with any or all of the following: cheese (I like queso blanco), diced red onion, chopped cilantro, sour cream, and/or pickled jalapeno slices.

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