2 quarts water

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. high quality pinto beans (Camellia recommended)

12 oz. lean bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1 small fresh tomato, diced

1 lb. pickled meat, pre-boiled

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. thyme

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 medium smoked ham hock

1 meaty hambone

4 cups canned chicken stock + 4 cups water

1/4 cup flatleaf parsley, minced

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 bunch thinly sliced green onions for garnish

6 cups cooked long-grain rice

1 platter country pan-fried cornbread patties (recipe below)

First, place the full pound of beans into a large stainless steel stockpot and completely cover them with the two quarts of water. Then bring the water to a rapid boil and actively boil the beans for 10 minutes over a high flame. When the boiling period is done, remove the pot from the fire, put the cover on tightly, and let the beans soak in the hot water for exactly 2 hours. This allows the beans to hydrate and absorb water,reduce their gaseous content, and soften their outer hulls.

When the soaking period is over, take a heavy stockpot you'll actually cook the beans in and drop in the diced bacon and the olive oil. Over a medium heat, stirring constantly to keep the bacon from sticking to the bottom of the pot, render out the drippings. Then stir in the onions, celery, diced tomato, and pickled meat and cook everything together until the vegetable mixture wilts and softens. When all the ingredients have totally combined, drop in the garlic powder, thyme, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper flakes, along with the smoked ham hock and the ham bone.

At his point, pour in the 4 cups of canned chicken stock, plus the 4 cups of water, and bring the contents of the stock pot to a rapid boil. Meanwhile, using a colander, drain the pinto beans, discard the water you soaked them in, and add the beans to the pot. Once again, bring the stock back to a rapid boil but immediately reduce the heat to low, stir everything together one more time, cover the pot, and cook the bean mixture for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Note: if some of the stock evaporates during cooking and the bean liquid thickens too much, simply add water or a little more chicken broth (canned chicken broth will do nicely).

Finally, about 15 minutes before you're ready to serve the dish, stir in the minced parsley and adjust the final seasoning with salt and black pepper to your taste. Then, when you're ready to eat, spoon out a big helping of hot rice into a bowl and generously ladle the beans over the top. All that's left is to garnish the plate with a sprinkling of thinly sliced green onions and serve with two or three hot pan-fried cornbread patties.

Chef Notes:

As is the case with red beans, white beans, limas, and black eye peas, country style pinto beans taste 100% better the next day, so don't be reluctant to cook them a day in advance.

The rapid boiling/hot soaking technique has been advanced lately as a method for reducing intestinal gas produced by most legumes. Several tests in my kitchens thusfar have indicated positive results.

I'm usually happy with just the hambone and pickled meat in my pintos, but if you want to cook links of smoked sausage into the beans to serve as a sidedish item, go ahead! I suggest you put the links into the pot when you add the chicken stock and water.

To make your Pan-Fried Cornbread Patties, you take a big ol' bowl and a wire whisk and whip together 1 beaten egg, 2 cups of buttermilk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup of all purpose flour, 1-1/2 cups of plain yellow corn meal, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt just until it's smooth (don't overwhip!). Then heat up a non-stick skillet until a drop of water dances off in a sizzle, pour in a scant amount of corn oil, and ladle in the cornbread mix in portions about the size of coffee table drink coasters. Cook them on one side until bubbles appear in the batter and the bottoms turns golden brown; then flip them over and continue to cook the other sides until they stop steaming and the flip sides brown too. All in all, it's like making pancakes but really crunchy-crispy ones!