Saturday, July 26, 2014

The West Virginia Meal

I don't think this dish has a name, but we call it the "West Virginia Meal" because it came to us with my West Virginia dad. You just fry a couple strips of bacon or some ham hocks in the bottom of a stockpot, add some sliced white potatoes and fry them up a little on the outside, then dump in about a pound of fresh green beans and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low heat, covered, for at least half an hour until the beans are just shy of mushy. You do not want California-style crispness - the beans need to be soft. You'll have to add maybe a cup of water to keep things from burning. You may need to pour off bacon grease and/or excess liquid; use your judgment. The quality of this dish is a direct function of the quality of the ingredients. Grocery-store beans are probably not going to cut it - I made this batch with a local wide bean from the Colonie Farmers' Market.

The West Virginia Meal

Tonight this went down with cornbread, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions, and peach cobbler for dessert. That is a West Virginia meal all the way. Use good vegetables, and trust me, you won't miss the meat; the two ounces of bacon will be plenty. Fried chicken goes with it, but you really don't need it.  

This dish might be even better if made with "leather britches" - beans that you thread on a string and dry in the pods. Then you have to soak them before use. When I was really young, Dad put up leather britches in our porch one summer, but we couldn't keep the bugs off them and they never got eaten. That was as close as I've gotten to leather britches. Maybe this fall...

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