Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beans, Beans, Good for the Heart.....

I love Michael Ruhlman (and Anthony Bourdain) this morning while on FB I was lead to a discussion about beans.  The different cooking methods, bean pots, salt or no salt, adding at different points of cooking etc.mirepoix or not, garlic, potato (to reduce gas) many options or opinions.  All of this discussion about the simple little bean. 

Now, I grew up eating allot of beans.  We were short on money most of the time, so beans and potatoes were always present, sometimes that might be the only thing present. My Mother was not a passionate cook, the only reason she cooked is because she had a husband and three daughters that demanded to be fed.  A pot of beans on the back burner and a pan of fried potatoes was a filling, cheap dinner.  She would throw a hunk of fat back into the bean pot and sometimes a pone of cornbread would accompany the beans and potatoes.  Oh yea, ketchup was the accepted side dish. 

My middle sister still considers ketchup to be a vegetable. Generations of folks have been influenced by this passionate love of ketchup she acquired and to this day cultivates.  Anyone she babysat for while a teenager, grew up loving ketchup and have taught their children to love it and so it goes.....Heinz should be paying her royalties.  But, I digress.  Back to the beans.

Pinto beans were our go to bean, still is my personal favorite.  But occasionally we would have a ham bone and of course that screams for white beans.  I wonder why we call black eyed peas, peas, not beans they are also know as cow peas hmmm....and of course there is the musical hip hop group The Blackeyed Peas. Another subject for another time. Back to beans... over the years I have explored many varieties, black, cranberry, garbanzo, red kidney, white kidney, fava, butter peas or lima bean, soy, green, and yellow beans.  Why is a white bean also called a navy bean?  They are white.  Pondering....

My favorite way to cook a pot of beans is so simple, no excuse not cook them.  Back in the day I used fat back, salt pork or bacon to flavor the cooking water.  Now mostly I use chicken or vegetable stock.

1lb Dried Beans (your choice)
16 oz Vegetable or Chicken Stock (or more)
16 oz Water
Salt to taste

Chow Chow
Vinegar/Pepper Sauce

NOT Optional:

Sort beans, discard any foreign materials, like small rocks, damaged or less than perfect beans. Place beans in a colander and thoroughly rinse them under running water.  Fill a large (6qt) pot with cooking liquid add beans.  Bring to a rolling boil and then lower the heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until your beans are tender and cooked thru, or until your desired consistency.  I taste the cooking liquid about 1 hour into cooking, if salt is needed I add it here and once they are cooked additional may be needed.

The liquid measurements are all approximate.  You probably will need more liquid as the beans cook the liquid evaporates, you will need to add more as you go.  Some beans take longer to cook than others.  I think it depends upon the variety and how old the product is, for the most part you never know how long a package of beans has been on the shelf or how long they set in a warehouse.

 I would recommend ordering your beans for Rancho Gordo (see attached link). They have heirloom varieties that may be new to you and fun to try and you will find your self cooking them more often.  That's a good thing!

Tonight's treat is Chipotle Bean Dip!  A simple little throw together that is a delicious snack for a cocktail hour on Saturday night.

2 cups Cooked Pinto Beans
2 Chopped Chipotle Chilies
1-2 Tbls Adodo Sauce
4-8 oz Monterey Jack Cheese with Jalapeno and Habenero (or your fav cheese)

Mash pinto bean, chilies and sauce until you have a thick puree.  You can do this in a flash in your Cuisinart or use a potato masher and workout some stress.  You may
need to add a little water to get a good "dip" like consistency.

Pour bean mixture into a small casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until warm through and slightly bubbly.  Top with cheese and return to oven to melt cheese.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Have your favorite cold beverage in hand and dig in!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  As Joe says...."OH SO TASTY!"

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