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Campfire bean cook stirs family memories

• Oct 21, 2015 at 10:21 AM

One of my favorite memories of cooking with my Memaw is when I would help her with our famous bean cook.

The whole family would get together and we would spend the entire day playing yard games and cooking beans over an open fire. Once the beans were done we would all gather around the fire for marshmallows and wieners.

The most special thing about our bean cook was the pot itself. We would always cook our beans in an old cast iron pot my Memaw’s grandmother made lye soap in many years before. That pot will be passed down for many generations to come.

We mostly held our bean cooks during the summer, but early fall is a perfect time as well.

Campfire Beans

10 pounds dry pinto beans
2 packages fatback
2 sticks butter

Combine all ingredients in a large cast iron pot or any other type of durable pot that can stand direct heat. Make sure to put enough water in the pot to cover all the beans. (There is no need to soak beans beforehand.)

Place pot on a stable surface over a roaring fire (we used a rack held up by cinder blocks). The beans need to cook all day. Stir occasionally and add water as it evaporates from the heat. Beans should be done after 6-8 hours of cooking.

Serve with a nice warm pone of cornbread and some canned tomatoes.

For smaller groups of eaters, and those not equipped with the campfire necessities, the beans can be cooked on a stove top on medium-high to high heat for just a few hours.

The ingredients can be cut to 1 pound of beans, 1 package of fatback and 1 stick of butter along with the needed amount of water.

Kingsport’s Dresdan Robbins is a community columnist for the Kingsport Times News.

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