Friday, May 13, 2011

Piggie Pie

As I said earlier, I hang on to my food magazines for much too long. I flip through each a couple of times before I feel that I really I've gotten as much out of it as possible – only then am I ready to let go and recycle. This past weekend (while recuperating from a nasty cold), I was reading through a particularly mature copy of Saveur (circa. summer 2010), and stumbled upon an article giving a rundown of the best of the best when it comes to meat cookbooks. There were many I had expected – mentions of Lobel's Meat Bible and Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage meaty tome – but there were also some unknown (to me, at least) treasures. I was immediately drawn in by the title of the book "Pig: King of the Southern Table," but my knees started to quiver when they mentioned a dish called "Texarcana Pork and Bean Pie with Cornpone Topping." Having little to no knowledge of Southern cooking, I had no idea what this title actually meant but, I wanted it (and I thought I might be able to actually taste it in spite of my stuffy nose). Off I went!

I struck it rich, and found the recipe (and maybe even the whole cookbook . . ?) online through Google Books (very exciting).

I changed things a wee bit – just a smidgen. I didn't have lard (I don't use it often enough to keep a tub on hand, but I certainly hope to someday), so I substituted butter and browned 1 pound (perhaps a little more) of ground pork with one diced onion. Once browned, I added 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin (was out of chili powder . . . woopsy), a light sprinkling of cayenne, and salt and pepper. I added a can of pinto beans, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and simmered for 20 minutes. I didn't add the raisins as instructed because I often don't like sweet items in my savory foods (particularly when it comes to raisins - like in noodle kugel - although I do like them in tagines, which is, admittedly, completely contradictory).

While it was simmering away, I made the 'cornpone' topping by mixing together 1 cup cornmeal, two tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 cup milk and 2 tablespoons melted butter (I didn't have shortening either). 

Once the pork mixture had simmered, I stirred in one can of crisp, sweet corn (I added corn instead of the raisins) and about 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese. I popped it all into a casserole dish and finished it by spooning the cornpone mix on top. I put the casserole in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until the cornpone topping is golden brown in color.

To add an extra bit of nutrition, I served the pie with sour cream and a little fresh cilantro. While not haute cuisine, I loved this pie and had it for leftovers atop a baked potato which was also quite tasty. Definitely good cold weather food (aka summer-in-San-Francisco food). 

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