Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friends Don't Let Friends: Eat Canned Beans

Sorry it's been a while since I posted a recipe.  It's not like we haven't been eating!  It's just been so hot out that I don't want to cook a lot.  But now we're back. And what I'm making today is something simple and basic but often overlooked - beans from scratch.

In the title I say not to eat canned beans.  There really isn't anything wrong with canned beans. They're convenient and perfect for adding some substantial weight to a meal. But making beans from dried does give you the opportunity to buy in bulk for much cheaper than canned, the flavor is better and you can control the amount of sodium you are getting.

Making beans, any kind really, rehydrated from dried is very simple, it just needs a bit of advanced planning.   You can do this faster with a quick cook method (boiling for 2 hours and then draining and then cooking as noted) but I prefer to do a cold water soak for at least 8+ hours.  I just throw the beans, about 1 - 2 cups of dried, in a pot or bowl with plenty of water in the morning, to cook that night, or the night before.  Then the largest part of the work is done with little effort on my part.

Once you've let your dried beans soak, strain out the water and give them a rinse.  This rinses away much of the sugars, which can cause gas in some people.

Now this is how I cook black beans but you can use the same method for other beans, just vary the flavors to go with the dish you are making.  I like to use a medium yellow onion, chopped, a few cloves of garlic minced or grated, and sometimes I'll even throw in a poblano pepper or jalapeno.  Again, go with the flavors you want for your end result.   I also grind some fresh pepper and add in whole cumin seeds.  I don't add any salt because this can keep the beans from absorbing the water by toughening their skins.

Just saute the onions, garlic, pepper and spices in olive oil for about 6 - 7 minutes, enough to sweat them and get them a bit browned.

While these are cooking I add in more seasonings so the onions absorb the flavors.  My favorites to add are Liquid Smoke (so good!), a few drops of toasted sesame oil, a few spritzes of Braggs, a splash or two of Tabasco and some ground cumin.

You can cook your beans in water but I prefer to use stock (you are making your own stock right?!?) as it adds so much richness and depth to the beans.  You'll need enough liquid to cover the beans.  You can supplement with water and even add in a veggie bullion cube too.

Add the beans, onions etc., to the pot and cook on low for about an hour.  The cooking time is very flexible.  You can turn up the heat (make sure they don't boil over) and cook them a bit faster, or let them simmer for a while, which is what I prefer. I like them to take plenty of time to absorb the flavors and cook down a bit.   Test a bean or two. They should be softened but still with some firmness.  Of course, if you like them really soft and mushy, just let them cook longer.

Once the beans are cooked you can serve them over rice, to top a salad, use in tacos or burritos or even cool and make in to burgers. Add your salt at the end and even a squeeze of lime juice.

One last note, save your bean soaking water.  You don't want to cook with it but you can use it to water your plants.  It's very nutrient rich.

Happy Bean Eating!

1 comment:

Sweetie Queen Elbi said...

I've never heard of using the soaking water. What a great idea! Better than Miracle Grow, I'm sure!