Friday, June 13, 2008

One Local Summer - week 2

This week's challenge meal featured these lovely calypso beans:

Dinner was calypso beans with green garlic and chorizo, braised greens with green garlic, plus a salad of mixed lettuce, snow peas, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and French breakfast radishes. The dressing was a homemade creamy peppercorn with a spice mix from Penzey's. Non-local ingredients were salt, pepper, and most salad dressing components. I forgot to get a picture of the salad, but here are the beans and greens. (The bean dish is not pretty, and as I was eating I realized that I had made a version of beans and franks! Much tastier than the canned stuff, though. Chorizo is my new favorite thing.)

I am slowly learning to cook dried beans. Here is the method I used to cook dinner:

Beans with chorizo
serves two

1 heaping cup of dried beans (mine were calypso beans)
some sort of allium: you can chop a small onion and a clove of garlic, or a small bunch of leeks. I used 4 or 5 stalks of green garlic
2 links of chorizo or similar spicy sausage

Beans: the hot soak method.

Rinse and pick over the beans. I like to spread them out on a cookie sheet to look for rocks and other non-desirables. Place your beans in a pot on the stove with plenty of cold water (I like to have it at least 3 inches above the top of the beans. You do NOT want to run out of water!) Bring the pot to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, then turn the burner off and cover the pot. Forget about it for 2 hours (though more time is fine.) After two hours I like to drain and rinse the beans (especially if they are kidney beans! I am weirdly paranoid about kidney bean poisoning, which comes from kidney bean lecithin or Phytohaemagglutnin. It happens when the beans are soaked and undercooked, so be sure to drain the soaking water and cook them well.) After the beans are drained and rinsed I put them back into the pot with plenty of water (again, you do not want to run out of water!) and my allium-of-choice (you can sweat the onion/garlic/whatever before adding the beans and water, but it is also okay to just toss them in raw.) Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the beans are done. Stir occasionally. But wait, she hasn't mentioned salt! A good rule of thumb is to wait until the beans are soft before you add the salt. Don't be stingy with it, as beans need salt - but also remember that sausage will be joining the party in a little while. It will bring a little saltiness to the mix.

So that's pretty vague, isn't it? Really, the cooking time varies by type of bean, probably age of bean, and possibly what day of the week it is or what phase the moon is in. I plan for at least 1.5 hours but it really can vary. The first time I made calypso beans it took an hour; the second time it was more than 1.5 hours. I usually don't taste-test until the beans have had an hour in the pot. Be sure to stir them, especially if your stove is an electric relic with uneven burners like mine. If the beans have too much liquid in them when they are nearly finished you can use a ladle to remove some of it. They should be a little moist but not too runny. You can always add another dash of water after the sausage goes in, if it ends up being too dry.

When the beans are almost done I add in the chorizo, which has been cooked as I decribe below:

(You may have noticed that whenever I am in doubt about the cooking time of a grain or legume, I tend to cook the major components of the dish separately to have better control over it.) In this case I browned the chorizo in a small skillet then braised it (use water or beer) until it was mostly cooked through. I am squeamish about sausage casings so I peeled them off before slicing the cooked sausage into 1/2 inch rounds. This does make the sausage fall apart, which is actually quite nice for a bean dish.

So we have cooked chorizo and almost-cooked beans. The two are united and cooked on low for about 5 minutes, or for however long it takes for the beans to be cooked through. I like mine to be quite soft, so they do tend to fall apart a little.


Debbie said...

Those beans are gorgeous, at least before cooking. I've never seen them before.

I'm becoming resolved to not being able to find beans locally. I'm very envious.

Anne said...

I was disappointed when they came out looking like pinto beans! I should have expected it, but still.

I found this page about commercial dried bean production in the US:
Unfortunately neither Iowa or Ohio are producers! My year's allotment (here's hoping the farmer is successful growing them this year!) is one pint each of 6 varieties, so just when I have learned to cook each one I run out!

Momaste said...

I've been getting local beans (I'm in California) for a while now, and no matter how pretty they are dry, they almost always end up looking like pinto beans! I made some gorgeous Jacob's Cattle beans, and Dessert Pebbles, and still they come out not nearly as pretty as they are dry. Good thing they're tasty!

Anne said...

Isn't it a shame that they don't keep their color? I remember the first time I cooked purple green beans - I didn't realize that they'd lose their color as well. Very disappointing!