Tag Archives: beans

Red Beans and Rice

There is nothing better than spicy Louisiana cuisine. I like it all. Gumbo may be the state cuisine, but I’m sure red beans and rice run a close second.

Wikipedia states that the red bean originated in Haiti. I spent two weeks there and we ate diri am pwa like it was going out of style. Everyday, lunch was diri ak pwa, the Haitian version of red beans and rice. To add variation to lunch, I added scotch bonnet sauce, ketchup, Tabasco, anything. Americans are so spoiled. We rarely eat the same meal twice in a week. Haitians eat what they can get. They don’t have the luxury of variety.

I need variety and it definitely shows in my cooking. My beans vary each time I cook them. It all depends on what I have on hand. I tried to get some beef bones yesterday to render out the delicious marrow, but I had to settle for pork shank. I’ve also used ham hocks. I think they are pig knuckles. They taste great.

I decided to write down today’s recipe in case I want to recreate it. (Who am I kidding, this is probably the last time I see it).

Ingredients:

2 oz finely diced Tasso
1 slice smoked ham shank
1 link smoked sausage
1 12 oz Pictsweet seasoning blend
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 cup Bordeaux (or any other red wine)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Gebhardt brand)
1 tablespoon beef base

Method:

Soak beans overnight.

Heat Dutch oven and brown ham shank. Dice the Tasso and the smoked sausage. Add to pot and add EVOO.

Once browned, add the Pictsweet chopped vegetables. I hate using frozen vegetables because they steam while you try to sauté them. When I am feeling puny, though, I’ll take the occasional shortcut.

Add bay leaves, minced garlic, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, oregano, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce.

Sauté until onions are translucent. Add red wine to deglaze pot (if the steaming veggies haven’t done so already).

Add beans and fill pot with water and cover.

Simmer beans for approximately one hour with occasional stirring. Remove shank. Dice meat and return to pot. Add beef base.

Cover and simmer approximately 30 minutes. Smash about 1/4 cup of beans against side of pot with wooden spoon to give a creamy consistency and season to taste.

Serve over rice with some crusty French bread.

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Best. Pinto Beans. Ever.

I know I’m making big claims, but I know you will be hard pressed to find better beans elsewhere.  I grew up on Great Northern beans where the seasoning consisted of diced ham, chopped onion, salt, and pepper.  That’s how my mom cooked them.  Great Northern beans are a very neutral legume, so this simple preparation is satisfactory.  They used to be my favorite, but after a couple of years testing out different pinto bean preparations, I have decided that I would much rather have pintos.

Pinto beans are also versatile.  I’ll have a bowl of beans.  I’ll make refried beans with leftovers to enjoy with eggs.  Leftovers find their way into chilis, stews, and even spaghetti.  If you have a great recipe that calls for beans, these lowly beans will elevate the the dish to levels that cannot otherwise be attained.

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds dried pinto beans

2 beef short ribs

1 bell pepper

1 stalk celery

1 anaheim chile

1 white onion

1 link andouille sausage

2 strips bacon (finely chopped)

1 tablespoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme (I usually use dried thyme leaves, but this is what I had on hand)

1 teaspoon mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 teaspoons chimayo blend chile (more on this later)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup red wine

7 cloves garlic-minced

2 tablespoons beef base

2 teaspoons cumin

1 can Rotel

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 

Method

Sort and soak beans in water the night before.  Rinse thoroughly before you are ready to cook.

Chop all vegetables and set aside.

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Pre-measuring spices can save some effort later. I have to do this if I’m measuring spices. I never do. I just toss them in as I see fit. That wouldn’t be a very good recipe to share, though.

Measure seasonings. (paprika, thyme, oregano, white pepper, chimayo blend chile, and black pepper.  (I purchased this Chimayo blend chile online from New Mexico.  They are known for their Hatch chiles and I want to do everything possible to make my beans taste great.  I’m merely sharing where I bought my chile powder because I like the product.  If you want to use something better than McCormick, that is one place to look.  By the way, I use many different McCormick products.  They’re great.  When you find something even better, you need to snatch that opportunity.)  Save the cumin until later as cooking it too long can make it bitter.  Add seasonings to a bowl for a later step.

the Maillard reaction is beautiful to behold.
The Maillard reaction is beautiful to behold.

Preheat pot.  I use a cast iron dutch oven for my beans and it has served me well.  Once heated, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Salt and pepper beef short ribs and brown.  Remember the Maillard reaction I described in my jambalaya recipe?  This is important for flavorful beans.  Typically, the meat will initially stick to the bottom of the pan.  After it has formed that crust, or scab, the meat will release.  At that point, you can turn the meat to brown the other sides.  If you are really patient, you can brown the edges with the aid of tongs.

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I love the smell of meat in the morning. Or ever.

Remove the ribs and set aside.  Hopefully, you have prechopped the andouille.  I prefer Manda, but Savoie’s is a good choice.  Cut it lengthwise.  Then cut the two halves lengthwise again.  Now you can dice it up into small triangle-ish pieces.  Add the andouille and finely chopped bacon to brown.

Add vegetables to increase taste factor.

At this point, add chopped vegetables and cook to soften.  Once the vegetables are about halfway done, add the garlic and short ribs.  You don’t want to add the garlic too soon or it could turn bitter.  All vegetables will be ready for the next stage once the onion is translucent.

 

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We are about to have some beautiful bean footage.

Add 1/2 cup red wine (I had some Bordeaux on hand).  I don’t drink, but I often cook with alcohol.  Never use cooking wine.  It is inferior.  I don’t know how to judge wines, but I figure a $10-$15 wine will work nicely).  Deglaze pot with wine and add in beans, spice blend, and Rotel.  Fill pot with water and simmer slowly for about an hour.

At this point, you can add cumin.  (I actually have a spice blend that I got in Honduras.  I know the main ingredient is cumin, but I have not identified the others.  For all I know it’s ground coca leaves.)  You also want to add the beef base.  I’ve used both the powdered and pudding-like base.  I like the latter one better, but the former is easier to store and doesn’t take up valuable refrigerator space.

This is a good time to remove the beef ribs to cool.  Once cooled, dice up what little meat is there and reintroduce to the bean pot.

Simmer around another 1/2 hour to an hour and you have an incredible pot of beans.

These beans go terrific with flour tortillas or buttery cornbread.

This is my recipe that I finally wrote down to minimize variation.  Feel free to share it, but please credit me accordingly.  Also, if you have a better recipe, I’ll be glad to try it out.

 

Dinnertime.
Dinnertime.

 

Nuts and Feet

I remember this radio promotion I was involved with many years ago at this Active Rocker. We had front row tickets to see Tool along with passes to the pre-show party.

This was during Fear Factor’s heyday and we wanted to cash in on that notoriety. A select number of listeners were going to be abused for their big opportunity by playing Nuts and Feet.

The premise was simple. Fill a kiddie pool with mayonnaise, pork and beans, relish, and a few more ingredients. Several boiled pig feet and one boiled pig testicle were buried in this slop. Score a foot and win a free CD. Land the baseball sized pig part and win the grand prize. Oh, and you had to retrieve these items with your mouth.

The smell emanating from that pool was horrendous. I almost vomited. The smell hit a woman and she threw up. We had this stunt in a store parking lot next to a busy street. This commotion even caused a car accident.

I don’t remember who won. I don’t even care. I was too busy laughing at this spectacle.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/prompt-moments-to-remember/

 

BBQ Chronicles: Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q–Tyler, TX

Every five years, Texas Monthly publishes their Top 50 BBQ joints in Texas. The last list was released about a year ago and I decided that I needed to visit all 50 joints before the new list is released. Good thing I don’t live in Delaware. That would be a lot of miles.

I think the search for the best BBQ feeds an innate need for accomplishment. I hate sports. Bass fishing has too much action. All that casting tires me out.

I like fishing, but I enjoy the type where you go to the lake, cast out without a hook, and take a nap. If you make the mistake by putting a hook on your line, some fish may interrupt your slumber. I also have a short attention span and thinking about fishing can interrupt blissful thoughts of eating tender barbecue.

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I’ve been to seven or eight joints on the list, and most have proven to be solid BBQ joints. Among my favorites (so far) happens to be only about ninety minutes from home.

Now, before we discuss some serious BBQ, I should let you know that I’m not a shill for this restaurant or any other establishment I may have discussed. I’m a hack. Big time hack. I’m so hackneyed that a college professor called me a hack. That professor was the Dean of the a humanities department. That makes me hack du jour. As far as I can tell, hacks do not receive promotional consideration. If I’m wrong about that, I need to get some free andouille and alligator meat.

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler, TX is well worth the drive. I haven’t been to any joint in Texas in the past few months because Dave Ramsey says we can’t afford it. If I don’t get any ‘cue soon I’m gonna have to tell Dave to shove it.

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Stanley’s had some incredible ribs even though the meat pulled away from the bone a little to readily. The fatty brisket was a treat. I had only recently learned that fatty brisket was a delicacy when I stopped by Black’s in Lockhart, TX. Now, if you are looking for beef ribs with a two pound clod of meat hanging from the end of it…oh, did I mention the beans? Stanley’s beans had a distinct black pepper flavor that set them apart from other establishments’ beans. They were certainly travel worthy.

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I also really enjoyed the mustard potato salad. The tanginess helped transition the palate much like ginger does when you eat sushi. I think it has similar health benefits as well.

There you have it. If you’re within three hours, I would say it is worth the drive much like Hutchins BBQ in McKinney, TX is worth a four four drive. I have considered that I am biased, but I decided that I am not.