I'm not sure if it's the times we live in or the place, but I don't know many people that go "callin' " anymore. When my brother Hank and I lived in Austin some 15 years ago, it was quite commonplace for friends to just drop by over the weekend without notice. Robert or Jenny or Annie or Dr. John would show up, knocking on the screen door, just to say howdy and pay a visit. And they were always welcome. It never seemed necessary to call us up in advance. That would have been too formal, too impersonal. It would not have been the same thing.
Maybe "visitin' " is a Southern thing, practiced mostly in small towns, where there's room to move around. I don't see much of it in Southern California, especially in Los Angeles. I think that there's such a tremendous density of population in big cities, and the stress loads so great, that people value their privacy much more. I know we do. As much as I reminisce about goin' callin' , I am no longer open to having people just drop in unexpectedly. Nor would I be without an answering machine, today's automated receptionist.
It's not that my husband and I don't want to see people. We love to entertain, but our lives are busy and social events must now be scheduled. Perhaps it was merely because my brother and I were much younger, and our lives less jammed up, that we could relax enough to let people visit unexpectedly. Or maybe it happened so frequently that someone would stop by, that it was not really unexpected after all. Looking back, we could pretty much bet that someone would show up (particularly in the summer), we just weren't sure which of our friends it would be.
So during that time I started making munchy things to have around the house. Things like chips and dips, hot roasted peanuts in the shell, homemade cheese spreads and crackers D things that could be served at a moment's notice. This recipe is one of them. The chipotle chiles add a smoky punch which goes great with Sunday afternoon football, fresh corn chips and ice-cold cerveza. If you like a really spicy concoction, then add another chili to the recipe. It will add extra heat, but it will also give greater smokiness and depth of flavor. By the way, this recipe also freezes well and can be quickly defrosted in a microwave. Serve it the next time your friends D invited or not D just happen to come a callin'.
1. Rinse the beans well. Place them in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then cook the beans 2 minutes. Cover and remove from the heat. Let the beans sit 1 hour. Drain and rinse.
2. Return the beans to the pot. Add enough water to cover by 1/2-inch. Stir in the crushed garlic, onion, epazote (if using), sage, dried red chili and smoked ham hock. Simmer the beans on low for 1 hour, or until tender.
3. Remove the ham hock and set aside to cool. When cooled, remove as much meat from the hock as possible.
4. Drain the bean mixture of its liquid, reserving the liquid. Place the liquid in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup. 5. Place the bean mixture, including the vegetables used in cooking, and the meat from the ham hock into a food processor or blender. Pulse until a thick, coarse paste is formed. Add the chipotle chiles, tomato paste and reduced bean liquor or stock. Purée until a thick, smooth paste is formed. If the mixture seems too wet, then reheat it to evaporate the moisture.
6. Refrigerate the dip until ready to use. Serve warm or at room temperature. garnished with fresh, chopped epazote or parsley.
Serving Suggestion: Beside serving this dip with chips and crudit?s, you may also use it as an ingredient in itself for burritos, tacos and nachos, or, when reheated, simply as a replacement for refried beans.
©1994, 2007 Katherine Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
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