Spring always brings these beans to mind, as we are lucky to eat them at least once at this time of year, at the annual Bull Sale. It was last Saturday, on April 10th. Prairie Fire is one big reason I love the bull sale, and if I ever just can’t wait, I make a batch myself!
Grandma Annaley didn’t fry the onions in lard, she just added them to the beans with the jalapenos. I made them her way faithfully a few years in a row, and really didn’t dream that I could improve on them. Then, on a whim, I tried my lard/onion method and I am hooked!
These beans also freeze very well, just let them cool completely, then pour them into resealable freezer bags, label and date, and store for up to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator, or if you’re in a hurry you can dump the beans into a pan and cook and stir over LOW heat until thawed and warmed through. I have also thawed them in a crockpot on low, stirring occasionally.
Incidentally, all Annaley’s daughters and daughters-in-law (and now granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law!!) make these beans, and I think each of us makes them just a bit differently. But whoever makes the beans, they are delicious!!
2-3 tablespoons lard
2 cups grated onion
2 quarts pinto beans
2 small or 1 large ham hock
1/2 lb. butter
1 lb. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2 large cans diced chili peppers
6 large garlic cloves, diced
1 Tbsp. diced jalapenos (more if you like it fiery)
salt and pepper to taste
Pick over and wash pinto beans.
Soak beans in cool water overnight. Drain.
First, fry the onions in lard. Gently fry them for about 10 minutes, until they are nice and browned. Then add the beans, ham hocks and water to cover beans. Cook until beans are soft and water reduced (pour off excess water). Remove ham hocks.
Add: chili peppers, garlic, jalapenos, butter and salt to taste.
Cook slowly until jalapenos are soft.
Turn off heat and add grated cheese.
Keep warm, serve.