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Posts Tagged ‘The Mighty Bean’

©Steve Pool Photography

In this recipe, I used Yin-Yang beans which are also known as Black Calypso beans, but you can use any white bean you have on hand.  Yin-Yang beans are a kidney bean hybrid, native to the Americas.  Half white and half black, they are a beautiful bean which doubles in size when cooked.  You will find lots of great bean recipes in my forthcoming book, The Mighty Bean, which will be published in February 2021.  In the meantime, I’ll try to be better about posting recipes that will wet your whistle for the full monty that the book will offer.

One of the joys of writing about beans was the discovery of so many different types of beans.  And, once discovered, I found many new purveyors online that, even during this pandemic, could quickly deliver them to me.  Searching the internet for new types became quite a game for me and Steve loved photographing the new-found varieties.

          As fall settles in, you will begin to see dried beans at your local farmers markets.  I first found the now-lauded Rancho Gordo beans quite a few years ago at the San Francisco Ferry Market Saturday farmers market and made another California farmers market discovery of Kandarian Organic Farms beans at the San Rafael (California) Sunday farmers market.  And, here in New York I can find dried beans at a number of stalls at the various farmers markets around town or online all year round.

Serves 6

1 pound white beans, soaked for at least 8 hours

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or canned broth)

¼ cup white wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped

1 onion, peeled and finely diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

1 pound sausage links, cut into pieces – Use any kind you like – sweet Italian, bratwurst, chorizo, blood sausage – all types work

Drain the soaked beans well.  Place them in a large pot with cold water to cover by at 2- to 3-inches.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Immediately, lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 90 minutes or until the beans are just barely tender, but not mushy.  They are going to be cooked further so it is important that they are not over-cooked at this point.  Test for tenderness after about 45 minutes as the age of the bean will impact on the necessary cooking time – older beans take longer, freshly dried beans can often cook in less than an hour.  If you use a slow cooker or Instant Pot, follow whatever directions you normally use to cook dried beans.  I just stick to my old-fashioned ways!

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Lightly grease a baking dish or casserole.  Set aside.

When the beans are almost tender, remove from the heat and drain well, reserving the cooking liquid.

Transfer the beans to a large mixing bowl.  Add the stock, wine and tomato paste, stirring to blend well.  Add the chopped chard, onion, garlic, orange zest and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper and again stir to blend.

Transfer the bean mixture to the prepared baking dish or casserole.  Nestle the sausage pieces into the beans and transfer to the preheated oven. 

Bake for about 45 minutes or until bubbling and crispy around the edges.

Remove from the oven and serve hot, with some crusty bread.

©Steve Pool Photography

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The Mighty Bean

We are a family of bean lovers!  I wrote my first bean cookbook almost 30 years ago and I have a new one coming out this winter – The Mighty Bean published by Countryman Press. They both are filled with recipes we love. Refried beans are right up there with the top 5 favorites even though they are not as heart healthy as we should be eating – but you really do need that bacon fat for the depth of flavor good refried beans have.  This is about as close as I come to making a traditional Mexican refried bean.  I like to make a batch and keep it on hand for making a quick burrito, enchilada or tostada.  If you keep a can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce (which I find to be excellent) and some tortillas on hand you can have a tasty Mexican-inspired dish on the table in minutes!

Refried Beans

Serves 6

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked (see page 00)

1 cup diced onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves – Mexican oregano is great if you can find it

Salt and pepper

1 cup bacon fat

Place the beans in a large saucepan with cold water to cover by 2-inches.  Add the onions, cilantro, garlic and oregano and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are very soft.  The beans should still be liquidy – if not, add water throughout the cooking process.  When the beans have softened, season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving the liquid.  Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and, with the motor running, add the cooking liquid a bit at a time.  The beans should be a bit rough – do not puree.

Place ½ cup of the bacon fat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the beans and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes incorporating the fat into the beans as you stir.  Cook until the beans are a bit dry.

Remove the beans from the heat and let cool.

Then, return to the heat and, using the remaining ½ cup of bacon fat, repeat the frying process.  You may not need to use all of the fat.  

Serve as a side dish or as a topping for tostadas or as a filling for burritos and/or enchiladas.

Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.  May be frozen.  Reheat before using.

NOTE:  When frying the beans for the first go-round, you may add finely diced onions, tomatoes and/or minced garlic to the mix.

You can also incorporate 2 cups of shredded queso blanco or Monterey jack cheese just before serving.

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