Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Now we're cooking with beans! ...wait...what?

Firstly, don't get me wrong, I do not make new year's resolutions like every single person I've talked to this week.  Just, like, be advised or whatever, because if I get the question again I'm going to fucking lose it.

We all clear? Good, then.

However, I did do a thing that's New and Healthy that I'll share with you here, but my motivations were purely those of hunger for delicious things and curiosity about the unknown. Also, I had some time on my hands and thought it'd be fun to make a very chopping-intensive recipe so that I could use my new knives.

But AT NO POINT was I motivated by becoming a New You in the New Year or any other cliched new year bullshit. That's for Toyota commercials and aerobics instructors and other societal retardation I do my best to avoid.

The thing in question here, anyway, was to cook with dried beans.

Yeah, told you, not really a new year's resolution-y thing. Because what psycho is writing up their new year's resolution list going, "You know, I think the #1 thing I want to do this year is to cook with dried beans."? None. That's something so mundane that it can only occur to a random mind at a random moment and then just hang out there until presented with the proper circumstances.

And the proper circumstances presented themselves over my holiday break when I found myself with the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated, a new set of sharpasfuck knives that needed quality time with my cutting boards and a cold, rainy day that wouldn't be complete without a really good soup.

And some fresh-baked bread.

And some leftover blackberry crisp from the Christmas Eve Feast that was lingering in the fridge.

What I'm saying is that the Hunger for Delicious Things part was thoroughly satisfied. Obviously.

The Curiosity for the Unknown Thing, well, it also went swimmingly. The Unknown Thing being dried canellinni beans.

I don't really know why I decided suddenly a while ago that I should learn how to cook with dried beans, but it was in my head and when I ran across a third recipe calling for dried beans, I was like, OK, I get it World, I should learn how to do this. In case, like, we all go back in time suddenly and canned beans no longer exist.

So, now that I've made this recipe and gone through the motions of cooking with dried beans, I can sleep at night knowing that I won't show up in the faraway past without the basic knowledge of how to cook with dried beans.

Which I realize makes me sound totally nuts and I'll just say this, I know.

BUT - if you haven't cooked with dried beans and you're wondering what the process is like, let me explain it to you super quick so we can all be prepared for an unplanned trip into the past before the time when canned beans existed but during a time when eating beans is really important. I have no idea what kind of time this would be.

Cooking with dried beans
Dissolve some salt (1 1/2 T) in a bowl of water (2 qts), add a cup of dried beans (I used canellinni) and let it sit overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Rinse the beans well and pick out any bad looking ones. They'll be all wrinkly and fucked up looking, which is fine.

Use them as you would beans from a can.

That's all.

Now I sorta wonder what the big deal was all about. Oh well. Better than if it was a huge pain in my ass. Which is was not.

What also was not a pain in my ass was this recipe from Cook's Illustrated for Hearty Minestrone.

And if you're at all familiar with CI recipes, you then realize that my calling it not a pain in my ass is pretty significant because those recipes?

Usually, a total pain in the ass.

Worth it - for sure - but major pains. Mostly associated with the amount of dishes I have to clean and the amount of prep involved. Plus, there's always the procuring of random ingredients (salt pork? Is this the 1900s?) and the multiple cooking stages (stovetop to oven to resting on the counter to blowtorching)(just kidding about the blowtorch thing) that makes a CI recipe stand apart from, say, a recipe I make up in my head from shit I've got lying around the crisper.

BUT WHATEVER. This recipe isn't that bad. As long as you like to chop. And I have a whole drawer full of new knives (which I'll bang on about later when I have a picture of them in their new awesome organize-y drawer) that wanted to chop things - and not just my fingers.

For the record, I've only engraved one fingernail with these knives so far and I've used them quite a bit since Christmas Eve when I opened them and immediately went to the kitchen feeling choppy.

And thank you again to my MiL who keeps renewing my subscription to CI for Christmas every year even though I strayed from its instruction at one point and tried to kill her son.


  1. OK- so I keep forgetting to ask you about that recipe that had the beets in it? Or something weird. It was like a cake or something. (I'm sorry if this is too specific for ya..LOL!) but I had the recipe and have since lost it. But when I did have it- hello I couldn't understand it. Like grams? Shit. I don't know grams. I mean, maybe if I was drug dealer I'd be more proficient with my conversion charts. So do you have that recipe in like regular language? One that'd I'd not fuck up? :)

    and beans? Ew. :(

  2. I love beans. And I cook them from dried all the time. I guess it has to do with having a mom who grew up on a farm and they only cooked with dried beans. I do have the occasional can of beans in my cupboard know for emergencies and what not.

  3. We have salt pork in our refrigerator at this very moment. Then again, I do in many ways live in 1900, so that's not too surprising I guess.

    You're going to love this, Finn. My MiL also got me a subscription to CI for Christmas. Except, uh, I probably won't ever make anything from the magazines, because the only time I ever look for recipes is when I already have something in mind, and I'm very unlikely to look in random old magazines for a recipe using, say, collard greens.

    But it's kind of fun to read all the science-y stuff. Until it gets sort of annoying.

    P.S. My word verification? "Rehump." HAAAAAAA. Yes, am juvenile.

  4. Dang Finny -- that recipe looks pretty good. I'll bet it was fantastic with your bread and cobbler!

  5. I've been perusing the same magazine issue and am going to give their Cajun Red Beans and Rice a whirl. It's my favorite meal every time I go to New Orleans.

    By the way, I'm making absolutely no resolutions this year. I'm just going to take the year one day at a time and try not to stress about anything.

  6. SOME beans (they shall remain nameless) have to be all "we're staying hard no matter how long you cook us {black beans} so I'm going to part ways with you when it comes to those fuckers. But I love canellinnis so I will withhold prejudice until they cross me!

  7. So I'm totally one of those people that writes out a big fat new year's resolution list... but it actually has a lot of weird things on there... like eat more brown rice, take vitamins, etc.... so eating dried beans might actually fit in! Ha, or maybe not. After all, don't like 87% of people flake out on resolutions by February?

  8. Wait - do you not have a pressure cooker? If you are really going to stick to your dried bean resolution (which goodness, you should!) a pressure cooker makes the whole thing so easy. 45 minutes; pintos soft as butter.


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