Monday, June 29, 2009

My New Favorite Bean Recipe

Back when Phil and I lived in New York, the New York Times constantly ran a commercial that competed in dorkiness with the Chock-Full-of-Nuts Pinocchio commercial and any number of Mento's ads. Couples were relaxing and yakking about how getting the Times on the weekend has greatly enhanced their lives. A favorite line from a square looking husband went something like, "On Sunday we go for what we really like. I go head to the sports page while she goes straight for the magazine."

Much as I hate being a player in a candidate for worst ad copy ever ("the Sunday New York Times is 40 percent more wonderful than the Sunday Washington Post!"), we do get the Sunday Times and I do head for the magazine first thing. Often the little features -- "The Ethicist," "Consumed" -- are all the paper reading I get. Periodically I'm blessed with an in-depth article by Michael Pollan. And nearly every week there's a recipe or two with an accompanying write-up. While I miss Molly O'Neill from when we were new subscribers years ago, I like that the articles bounce between remembrance, history, technique, and expose. Although I have to admit that I can't stand when "Cooking with Dexter" is up about a persnickety "four-year-old foodie" who I find tedious, but that's another topic. (Boy, that kid works my last nerve.)

Yesterday's article gave a brief history of beans and rice in the five boroughs, followed by a Sunday beans recipe that I tried about 30 seconds after reading it. I was intrigued by stewing the beans in fruit juices as well as the unapologetic use of canned pinto beans, which I have a pantry full of thanks to chili season winding down and a fairly recent trip to Costco.

I didn't have everything on hand that was called for. My beans would be more savory and fatty if I had the chunk bacon called for, for example. But the sweet with beans is brilliant. Phil and I have about killed off the pot I made, with little help from the kids other than Sylvia -- who grabbed a fistful from my bowl while I was eating tonight.

The original recipe is here. And here's my close-enough improvisation.

My New Favorite Bean Recipe

2 Tbsp. or so olive oil
1 yellow onion, small chopped
1 shallot, fine chopped
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1-1/2 cups orange juice
3 cans (15-1/2 oz.) pinto beans, drained with the juice reserved
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium soup pot, heat up the olive oil. Add the onion and scallion and cook for about 5 minutes -- until they're nice and wilty. Add the cumin and coriander; stir around for a minute or so -- until your kitchen smells lovely. Add in the juice. Raise the heat until the juice starts to simmer, then lower and simmer until it's reduced by half. (The recipe says reduced to 1/4 its original volume, but Sylvie woke from her nap so adjustments had to be made.) Add the beans and enough of the reserved bean liquid to make it a nice sauce consistency. Let it bubble for another 20 or so minutes, adding more bean liquid if it gets at all dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Phil and I found it's good hot, cold, and at room temperature. We have yet to try it frozen on Popsicle sticks.

While I was saucing up new bean recipes, Phil was visiting folks back in the Big Apple. He stayed with our friends Amy and Dan, whose basement bar you might remember from this post several years ago. They're renovating their kitchen (and adding a half bath and growing the house), and Amy's getting a six-burner, two-oven stove out of the deal. We might have to stop being their friends.

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Blogger Suzy said...

I love trying recipes with odd combinations of ingredients ... I'll definitely be making this one soon! :)

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy!

It's Valerie from your long ago Brooklyn Heights knitting group. One of the other members - not one you ever met - found your blog a couple of months ago and I have been reading it. I meant to write you yesterday on our mutual birthday (how can I possibly be 48?) but was busy. Hope you enjoyed it. I tried your saucy canellini (sp?) recipe last week and will be making it again. It was good and is a nice easy meal for one in hot weather. Of course I subbed more garlic for the anchovy paste - you can't get all of the Minnesota out of a girl no matter how long she has lived in Brooklyn.

5:12 PM  
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