Today is National West Virginia Day. When the state of Virginia voted to secede from the Union, Western Virginia clung to their Union loyalties. Those folks created their own constitution apart from Virginia and approached Congress for statehood. West Virginia became the 35th state in the Union, joining as its own entity in 1863.
West Virginia has the distinction of being the only state forged from another existing state, and only one of two states created during the American Civil War. It’s interesting to note that the thirteen original colonies went on to create eighteen states. Vermont was once a part of New York. Kentucky was once included in the Virginia Colony. Tennessee was formerly a part of North Caroline. And finally, Maine and Massachusetts were once one colony.
Life moves at a slower pace in West Virginia. The Allegheny, Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains means West Virginia’s total terrain is nearly seventy-eight percent forest. Within these rugged mountains are small, isolated populations with deep roots. Theirs is a culture infused with banjo and gospel music. The mountains also influences the earthy flavors of Appellation cooking. Venison is a popular meat, as are pots of Pinto Beans and sweet cornbread. Now if you happen to have some smoked Venison just laying about, by all means, throw it in the pot!
Instant Pot West Virginia Pinto Beans
1 lb. dried Pinto Beans
1 small Yellow Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
2 strips Thick Smoked Bacon
4 cups Chicken Stock
1-1/2 cups Water
Kosher Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Black Pepper to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste
Flat Leaf Parsley, minced for garnish
Pick over the beans, rinse and set aside to drain.
Turn Instant Pot Saute setting for 6 minutes. While the pot heats, peel and dice the onion and garlic. Set aside. Once hot, add the bacon and cook for about 2 minutes, flip and continue cooking until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside.
Add the onion and stir, cooking for about 2 minutes. Pour in the broth and water. Add the minced garlic, salt, chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and pinto beans. Stir to blend. Lay the bacon on top.
Place lid on, and lock in place. Set Pressure Cooker mode to manual-high pressure for 47 minutes.
Once cooked, allow for the pressure to release naturally, 15 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure.
Open the Instant Pot and remove the bacon and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Note: Refrigerated cooked beans will keep for up to a week.
Appalachia Skillet Cornbread
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) Butter, divided
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Honey
1-1/2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 cup Cornmeal
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter and let cool. In a medium bowl, lightly bean the eggs. Whisk in the melted butter, buttermilk, sugar and honey. In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt and Baking Soda. Whisk in cornmeal. Create a well in the dry ingredients, add wet. Stir to blend and set aside.
Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, add half stick (1/4 cup) of butter. Let the butter melt, swirling to cover the bottom and the sides of the skillet. Once the butter begins to sizzle, remove from heat.
Add cornbread mixture. Immediately place the skillet in the heated oven to bake for 20 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Serve directly from the skillet, cut into wedges.