a pot of brothy beans
Home Movies Tuesday!
Hello and welcome back to Home Movies Tuesday!
Some personal news: Today, February 16th, 2021, marks the last time I am able to publicly talk about BEANS.
It’s been a good run. I’ve truly enjoyed talking about beans for the last several years, asking you to cook dried beans without soaking, and writing recipes for those beans you’ve cooked (presumably, without soaking). I’ve loved the extremely tepid take of “soak if you want and don’t soak if you don’t” and having so many strangers on the internet (mostly men!) tell me why I’m wrong. I will chase the high that can only be achieved from being benignly contrarian about the most boring topic known to man (beans) forevermore.
Signing off from the bean discourse for the last time, I can’t help but wonder: Will I ever feel again?
BUT WHAT BEANS SHOULD I COOK? Listen, it takes cooking a lot of beans to find your bean. Finding your bean should not be taken any less seriously than finding “your person” or “your apartment” or “your karaoke song.” All are important milestones in your long and gorgeous life and sometimes those things take time, so be patient, try many beans, think about what makes a good bean to you. Is it firm and starchy? Is it fall-apart and creamy? Is it small with thin skin or large and sturdy enough to be eaten with a toothpick? My advice: Buy new and different beans. Cook them. Eat them. Cook with them. Listen to yourself, listen to your heart. Then and only then will you find your bean.
To start your bean adventure, Rancho Gordo is of course an excellent mail-order source.
A POT OF BROTHY BEANS
Serves one person for at least two weeks
If you’d like to make a pot of beans and are looking for a recipe, know that this is more a method than a recipe. Also, please note that this is more MY method, MY recipe, and not THE ONLY method or THE ONLY recipe. There are a million fantastic ways to cook beans, this is simply one. The beauty of these beans is in their ridiculous simplicity and how truly wonderful they are in just about anything you can think of. They are also *highly customizable*, which you know I love.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 small or 1 large onion, quartered through the root (I don’t peel)
1 or 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise (I don’t peel)
1 lemon, halved crosswise
1 small bunch or a few sprigs dried herbs like oregano, marjoram, thyme or rosemary
a few dried chiles (or one fresh one, halved lengthwise)
1 pound dried beans (about 2 cups)
6 or so cups water
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions, garlic and lemon. Cook until they’re caramelized and nicely browned, a few minutes or so. This step will do a huge favor to your broth, adding depth and complexity non-caramelized ingredients could only dream of.
2. Add dried herbs and chili. Add beans and water. Season with salt, bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a bare simmer, leave the pot uncovered and cook until, as Steve Sando from Rancho Gordo puts it, “they’re done.” This can take anywhere from 50 to 120 minutes depending on the size and age of the bean.
If the beans need more liquid as they simmer, add more water. Depending on the bean and your preference for their final destination, the beans can be creamy and fall apart-y or tender and semi al-dente. I am not a bean expert, just a bean enthusiast, but just know I feel like the only way to truly ruin a pot of beans is if you buy old beans (they’ll never become tender).
TO TURN THIS INTO BEANS OVER TOAST
This is an excellent “I have nothing in my fridge what should I eat tonight” type situation that you will now start to go out of your way to make. The bean cooking liquid plays an important role here, soaking into the olive oil toast, it very much eminds me of classic Thanksgiving stuffing. That’s all I’ll say.
Wilt a handful of dark leafy greens (dandelion, kale, mustard, swiss chard, spinach, etc) in a glug of olive oil with some salt and pepper, ladle in some beans with their broth, swirl to incorporate. Serve the beans and their broth over thick-cut olive oil toast (crusty bread, fried in olive oil on the stovetop till crispy, 2–3 minutes per side). Eat with a six-minute egg (place eggs in a small pot of boiling water, boil for six minutes, remove from the water, and cool in an ice bath or cold running water) with some shaved or crumbled salty cheese (parmesan, pecorino, queso fresco, feta), coarsely chopped or torn fresh herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro) and more olive oil (beans really love olive oil, and so do I).