We left you hanging in October, due to a swarm of continuous activity gearing up for Discretion Brewing’s opening in January. Our apologies. Now here we find ourselves in early December. We hope you had a warm, festive, delicious Thanksgiving with the people who are dearest to you. Are your holiday decorations up? Have you checked any gifts off your list? The temperatures are dropping, the rain is coming, and it’s the perfect weather for a big pot o’ beans.
Beans are a versatile protein that can be thrown in a pot with any cuisine’s flavor profile. Think of them as a blank canvas. As they cook, your house will smell fantastic and make you feel good about yourself. It’s true.
The beans – If you’re going to make beans the star of the meal, you’ll want to use dried beans. Quality is key - I love using Rancho Gordo heirloom beans. Soak them the night before you want to cook them.
The flavor base – Heat olive oil in deep pot. Add diced onion, garlic, and whatever cubed veggies fit with your theme, along with the spices that you think might compliment them – think fennel, carrots, oregano, rosemary, thyme. Or Jalapeño peppers, cumin, coriander, chile powder.
The cooking liquid – Nothing beats home-made stock. We roasted a chicken a couple days ago in anticipation of this dish, using spices and ingredients that we thought might compliment it. Don’t have time to roast a chicken? Store-bought chicken stock will do. Or beer (good beer) is a wonderful cooking liquid (says the girl who’s involved in opening a brewery).
The finish – A squeeze of lemon; a squeeze of lime; a splash of vinegar. A little acid adds a bright finish to your pot o’ beans.
The accompaniments – Did your beans take a turn towards Mexico? Serve with warmed tortillas and cubed avocado on the side. Did curry make its way into the pot? Try store-bought naan (Stonefire naan is a great brand) warmed in the oven and brushed with melted butter. Did you go the Mediterranean route like we did? Serve with crostini.
By all means, use this recipe as a guideline. Feel free to experiment with ingredients. Serves 4-6.
Pot O’ Beans, Mediterranean Style
(This is a recipe we’ve made several times without measuring anything, but this time I referred to this recipe from Martha Stewart, in order to give you some correct ratios. Enjoy!)
1/2 lb. dried heirloom beans (such as pinto or cranberry)
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a fennel bulb, diced
1 large carrot, diced
rosemary (about 2 sprigs, chopped)
salt & pepper
4 cups chicken stock (preferably home-made)
1/2 a large lemon (we used a Meyer lemon from our tree in the front yard), zest and juice.
- The night before you want to make your pot o’ beans, don’t forget to soak them! Place the dried beans in a bowl and cover with cold water (by 2 inches or so). The next morning, drain and set aside. Oh crap! You forgot? It’s ok – for a quick soak, cover beans in a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain. Phew.
- Heat 2 TBS. of olive oil in the bottom of a deep pot. Cook onion, garlic, fennel, carrot, 1/2 tsp. salt, freshly ground pepper, and any other add-ins until onion and garlic are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add beans, 4 cups broth, and another 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, until tender, 1 to 2.5 hours, depending on type of bean (our cranberry beans took 2.5 hours). Add more liquid during the cooking process, if necessary.
- Add the zest of half a lemon (we used a vegetable peeler and added several big pieces of zest that we removed before serving). Taste and add more salt to taste. Add the lemon juice if you desire. Serve with crostini on the side – we rubbed slices of sweet baguette with garlic, brushed them with olive oil, and threw them in a 350 degree oven until crispy and golden (turning once), about 12 minutes.