05 September 2010

5 September - Sam Houston; Southwestern Beans

On this day in 1836, Samuel Houston (1793 - 1863) was elected president of the Republic of Texas.

A busy year for Sam.  Having been appointed major general of the Texas army the previous November, acting as delegate to the convention in March which adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico, organizing the poorly formed Texas military forces as the newly appointed Commander in Chief, facing the far superior Mexican army under General Santa Anna, which culminated in the Battle of San Jacinto in April and victory for the Texians - take a breath - he would be the first regularly elected president of the new republic, have a town founded and named in his honor, which would serve off and on as the capital, and started motions to have Texas annexed to the United States.

And that is just one year in the life of this amazing and controversial figure, of whom you can read more here.

Since we still have some good barbecuing days, what better way to honor him than with a dinner of steaks or chicken basted in Sam's famous barbecue sauce, accompanied by Mrs. Houston's Fried Green Tomatoes, and of course, the inevitable beans (recipe below) and corn bread.  Dessert could be the Houstons' White Cake or one of the bread puddings, recipes for which can be found on the website for the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

And in the afterglow of a good dinner, what better way to round things off, than sipping on a glass of Sam Houston Bourbon.

(serves 6 - 8)

Cover 1 pound of dry pinto beans or red beans with cold water and soak overnight. 

Next day, add 1 ham bone and 1 red chili pepper to the pot of beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for several hours or until beans are tender. Drain the beans into one bowl, and save the liquid in another.

Meanwhile, chop:
  • 1/4 pound of suet (or use salt pork.  I do)
  • 1 large onion (a sweet Texas onion would be in keeping with the spirit of the day)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley

Heat the suet in a large pot, stir in the onion and garlic, and cook about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, 1 cup of the bean liquid, 1/2 teaspoon EACH of ground cumin and dried marjoram, 1-1/2 tablespoons of chili powder and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary.  Add beans and continue simmering gently for 20 minutes.

Here's to you, Sam!