Feeding a Lot for a Little

Recipe: Beans and Cornbread

This should probably be called “Beans and Ham Hocks”, but we always called it beans and cornbread when I was little. I think it’s a dish from my father’s childhood growing up in the South. Another one is sausage biscuits for breakfast, which I always thought my Grandma Tolar invented until McDonald’s started selling them.

It’s hard to imagine a dish that can feed as many people as cheaply and easily as beans and cornbread. I broke this out this weekend and pretty much fed 14 people for the price of 2 pounds of dried beans, three smoked ham hocks, and a double batch of cornbread. Total price for the main ingredients was about $10. Sure, there was other food at the meal. Some may argue that the fresh salad, cut up fruit, pan-cooked summer squash and tomatoes, and leftover enchiladas also fed some people, not to mention the two batches of brownies and ice cream afterwards, but I think you’ll agree that the real food was the beans and cornbread. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I’m sure there are many good recipes for cornbread, some probably very tasty, but the one I use is right on the box of cornmeal and works like a charm. You mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then combine the two. Pour the batter in appropriate pans and bake. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

The beans part of beans and cornbread could hardly be easier to make. It takes some clock-time (all day, for example), but it is mostly unattended cooking on the part of the beans, leaving you free to watch football, or pan-cook summer squash and tomatoes, or whatever else you need/want to do.

The traditional way (ok, my traditional way) to eat this is with diced onions and ketchup. Yeah, you read it correctly, ketchup. Non-traditionalists at my place also used salsa, habanero jelly, or just plain (even without the onions!). You don’t have to serve this on a paper plate, but I think it adds nicely to the ambiance, don’t you?

Beans and Cornbread
Recipe type: Entree
Author: <span class=”mceItemHidden”>Grandma <span class=”mceItemHiddenSpellWord”>Tolar</span></span>
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 6 hours
Total time: 6 hours 10 mins
Serves: 10
This recipe is for beans and ham-hocks, the cornbread recipe is on the box of cornmeal.
  • 1 lb. dried pinto beans
  • 1 lb. dried great northern beans
  • 3 smoked ham hocks
  • 3 large onions, 1 for cooking and 2 for dicing and serving
  • salt and pepper
  1. Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse in the morning.
  2. Cut up one onion and add to the beans and ham-hocks in a large pot. Add enough water to cover, plus two inches. Heat to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2.5 hours.
  3. Remove ham-hocks to a plate to cool. Continue cooking beans. When the hocks are cool enough to handle, harvest the meat and add back into the pot.
  4. Cover the pot and continue cooking all afternoon, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve over cornbread with diced onions and ketchup!


Rating: Growing up I gave this a definite 5 out of 5 kool-aids, it was one of my favorite meals. My kids never really got the religion for some reason, so I think this may be an acquired taste. For that reason alone, I’m going to give this 3 out of 5, but I encourage you to acquire the taste. It’s good eating.

This entry was posted in 3 Wine Glasses, Dinner, Pork. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Feeding a Lot for a Little

  1. Debbie Merrill says:

    I tasted a couple of beans and they were delish. Too bad I could not eaten more (allergic to pork). I personally love family recipes and hope to pass some on to my kids.

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