January 14th, 2018

Forget Bobby Flay; Eat This

Several typos made it into my cookbook, potentially crippling anyone who tried to use certain recipes. In order to make amends, I will let you know how to make the dynamite dinner I just had. This info is in the book, but it’s slightly wrong.

I made navy beans with ham hocks, plus cornbread.

I learned something interesting this week. A friend of mine works at the University of Florida, where they have something called the Meat Lab. They sell meat to the public. They sell ham hocks. I got ahold of some. They sell them shrink-wrapped, so you can pop them right in the freezer.

Until this week, I had been unaware that some ham hocks were better than others. I would grab whatever they had at the store. The hocks were very nice. But they can’t compare to UF’s hocks. The flavor is better. There is more meat. The fat is delectable. Wonderful things. If you can find top-quality hocks, it will elevate your ham hock game to a new level.

Here is what I did.


2 lbs. dried navy beans
2 big garlic cloves, sliced
2 tsp. pepper
1 very large yellow or white onion, not sweet
1 tsp. prepared mustard, like Mister Mustard or Gulden’s
salt to taste

Wash the beans and soak them overnight. You need a couple of inches of water over them. They will soak a lot of it up, and you don’t want them to go dry. In the morning, dump the water. Supposedly, a lot of the flatulence goes with it. Rinse the beans. Put them in a pot with two big hocks. Add the other ingredients, except for the salt. You may not need it.

Cover everything with water, get it boiling, and keep it on a very low boil for a few hours. The meat will tell you when it’s done. You should be able to cut the fat on a hock with a fork. The beans will be tender, and they will break down a little. Check the saltiness during the cooking process and adjust it. Some salt will leach out of the hocks and season the beans, so don’t go throwing salt in at the beginning.

Boil a few more hocks in plain water, in another pot. You will need these. You can add pepper and garlic if you want. You don’t want a whole lot of water. Cover them, but don’t use so much water you suck the flavor out of them.

When you’re done boiling them, the water will be a divine, aromatic pork broth you can probably use for something.


2 cups self-rising white corn meal or Martha White cornbread mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bacon grease (you can replace half of it with butter, but I wouldn’t)
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 450. Throw your #6 cast iron cornbread skillet in there and get it hot. Meanwhile, mix everything but the bacon grease in a bowl. When the skillet is hot, add the grease and let it get hot enough to smoke. You want the skillet so hot it browns the cornbread when you pour the batter in.

Pour the hot grease into the batter and stir it in. Pour the resulting mixture into the skillet. Bake for about 22 minutes. Invert the cornbread onto a dish or something. Turn it right-side-up. Cut in wedges.

Serve this with sliced tomatoes (heirlooms are best) and vidalias. A mix of red and yellow tomatoes is good. You can have a big glass of buttermilk or iced tea with it.

If you’re really hard core, you can also make collard greens, also with ham hocks.

This is one of the best meals on earth. Butter the cornbread and dip it in the beans. You can also get sorghum syrup and put it on buttered cornbread.

I don’t have any typos this time. You can trust me.

This cornbread is not sweet. Sweet cornbread is for Yankees. Also, black people like it. If you’re determined to ruin it with sweetness, I guess you can add sugar.

Don’t stray too far from your bathroom after you eat this. Don’t make me explain.

You could also make fried apples with this. Slice up some Granny Smiths and fry them with butter, brown sugar, a little salt, and some cinnamon or nutmeg. You could cheat and add a tiny bit of vanilla. Just throw everything in a skillet and fry it. Get the apples to brown a little.

This is so great, I can’t describe it to you. And it’s very easy to make. And cheap. Also, the beans will keep getting better in the fridge, as long as they’re not rancid.

2 Responses to “Atonement”

  1. Juan Paxety Says:

    I understand even more of the flatulence goes away if you put about a teaspoon of baking soda in the soak water.

  2. Tom Says:

    This is my favorite meal during the cold months.
    I’ve been eating it a lot the last few weeks.