Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beans

An excellent meal for hard times, I may just cook these too often. Both mr. delagar and the kid get all snotty when I proposed having them again, in any case, despite the fact that both agree I make the best beans, like, evah.  The secret's in the chocolate.

(1) Start with, obviously, beans.  You can use any sort.  Lately I favor black beans, the tiny little black ones sold in the Latin section of our local grocery, a pound for about fifty cents.  When I was living in New Orleans, I used Camilla red kidney.  For a time, I was using a local soup bean mix.  The type doesn't matter so much.  Have fun!  Use about a pound of beans. Bust them out of the bag, dump into a colander, rinse, and look for stones.  You don't have to soak beans.  That's a Capitalist myth.  Once you're sure no stones have infiltrated your beanish goodness, you're ready to rock and roll.

(2) Take some sort of onion.  Leeks are interesting, as are green onions, as are those big fat red onions.  I've even used wild onions, yanked out of the yard.  Use whatever you've got around.  You want about a cup of chopped up onions, more or less, depending on how much you like onions.  Chop'em big, it doesn't matter.

(3) Cut up your meat.  You can use all sorts of meat.  Bits of chicken are good -- chicken tenders, chicken breasts, left over chicken scraps -- or sausage scraps or bits of beef or whatever meat you like.  I advise against turkey sausage or turkey of any sort, having tried this. For some reason, turkey and beans do not mix.  Cut your meat kind of small, like the tip of your thumb small.

(4) Put some olive oil in a nice big pot.  I like cast iron or heavy aluminum.  It's going to simmer awhile, so something heavy.  Heat it medium low.  Olive oil burns easy, so take care.  Dump in the onions and stir, stir, stir.  Let them cook until we have a nice smell.  Then add the meat and stir.  If you are a vegetarian kind of person, BTW, feel free to leave the meat out.  Meat is not required.

(5) Add broth, about 3-4 cups of it.  More or less according to what you have on hand.  It can be beef or chicken or vegetable if you are a vegetarian-type person.  Add in beans.

(6) Add other seasonings.  Me, I add only some pepper and salt at this point, but mr. delagar will add cayenne pepper and weird spices like bay leaf.  My advice: start with the pepper (about a tablespoon) and salt (ditto) and see how you like that.  Also: one tablespoon unsweetened good quality cocoa powder.  I like Ghirardelli's myself, but any nice dark cocoa powder will do.  Mix it with the broth first and then stir it in.  If you like, add a tiny bit of black strap molasses, too, but not too much and add a bit more salt and pepper if you do this.  Add some water, enough to cover the beans and a little more.

(7) Bring to boil, lower to a simmer, simmer for about 3 hours, until beans are soft.  As the water gets absorbed, you can add more water -- how much you will need will depend on how thirsty the beans are.  Keep the beans covered, but not deluged.

(8) Serve with rice or tortillas.  Or you can serve it with good bread.   Can be frozen or kept in the fridge and reheated for two or three days or until mr. delagar and the kid threaten mutiny.

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