Sunday, May 24, 2009

If it ain't pinto, it ain't Southwestern

This is a paen to the pinto bean.

You see, if you are a Southwesterner, you know about pintos. The rest of you do not. Doesn't mean we can't all be Americans, here, but you are missing a prime part of the Southwestern cooking culture if you don't know about pintos.

When I read a recipe labeled Southwestern cuisine and it first says "take a can of kidney beans" I know it is not Southwestern. Those of us who are indigenous to the Southwest are a little puzzled anyone would choose a kidney bean over a pinto. We never,ever do. If further, it adds, "add a chopped green Bell pepper", we simply say, "huh?" Sometimes, those recipes can be tasty.

But honey, they aren't Southwestern.

I don't care if you add cumin, and we pronounce it "koomin" not "cuemin", or if you add garlic. In any case, you usually don't add enough, so what's the diff?

Pinto beans are delicious. When mixed with rice and/or corn, they are an excellent source of (no cholesterol) protein. Pintos have their own flavor, but when added to meat or tomatoes, they take on some of the flavor of their partner. They are done when tender. They don't have to be mushy, but always tender when done.

Many of our Southwestern children knosh slices of bean burritos sliced on their high chairs as their first finger solid, sort-of foods. Of course, bean farts and evacuations are highly odiferous, but we can handle it.

Pinto beans can be cooked by themselves with cumin and garlic, with tomatoes and onion and peppers, with hambones, with hamburger, and with chicken broth.

Oh, and when I say peppers, I mostly mean green chiles, jalapenos and habeneros.

Pintos are tasty their ownselves, but they take on the flavor of what they are cooked with. Cooked till done with a little garlic, cumin, and yes, a smidgin of bay leaf, they can be a thin, tasty soup. Cook longer, and they become thicker and can be smudged into heated (not cold) flour tortillas. Finally, they can be sauteed in a skillet and mushed into nothing with either a touch of healthy canola oil or a smidge of bacon grease and turned into refried beans.

Fry up some corn tortillas (shells are also NOT Southwestern), add the beans, add some cheddar, chopped lettuce and onion and tomatoes, and gorge. Top with salsa. Oh. and while the beans are simmering, add jalapenos and (blush) Tiger Sauce to it for some bite.



Assrot said...

Us southern folk over here love them pintos too. I'm an old Georgia boy.

My favorite meal has always been pinto beans, collard greens, corn pone and a few hot peppers on the side.

A tall glass of sweet tea to chase it and I'm in heaven.



charlotte g said...

Love cornbread with pintos, but not cornpone, and enjoy my collards, too--without salt pork or ham. The sweet tea, now, if you must, make mine with a slice of lemon and a generous sprig of mint.