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Pinto Bean Corn Pone
(recipe, Kelly Myers)
You could describe this casserole as a hearty vegetarian version of tamale pie, the American classic made with browned ground beef and a cornbread crust. I like it best made with pinto beans that have been slowly baked with onion and a couple of tablespoons of lard. Vegetarian or not, this is a good dish for a warming supper.
The cornbread mixture initially looks too wet, but it bakes into a light, custard-like topping studded with kernels of corn and enriched with sharp Cheddar cheese.
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, such as canola
- ¼ cup minced onion
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- ½ tsp. dark chile powder
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans, cooking liquid reserved
- 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ⅔ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and lightly grease an 8-inch-by-8-inch glass baking pan.
- In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in vegetable oil until golden. Add tomato paste, chile powder, and cumin. Break up tomato paste and mix well with onion and spices. Cook, stirring, for two to three minutes.
- Add beans and stir to combine. Add about ½ cup of the bean cooking liquid, if available, or water. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Beans should be juicy. Simmer for three minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roughly mash half of the beans with a fork or potato masher. Thin with more water or bean cooking liquid if necessary.
- Mix the cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir together butter, buttermilk, and egg. Add wet ingredients to the cornmeal mixture. Stir until smooth.
- Pour hot beans into baking dish. Pour cornbread mixture over the beans.
- Bake on the top rack of your oven until the cornbread is a rich golden brown and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 35 to 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out clean. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.