I love beans. I grew up on beans. When most other families had rice or potatoes on the side, my Mom always had a big pot of beans on the stove, or packed up in the fridge, ready to go. My Mom is from Honduras and she said that as a child never a meal would pass without a big pot of long-stewed beans. There were no canned beans back then. It was all about dried beans that had to be cleaned, soaked and boiled for hours to make them tender and tasty.
I grew up on dried beans, so moved away from them when I entered college and had to cook for myself. Canned beans were just easier. At least three nights a week, I’d pop open a can of black beans (preferably Goya brand) and saute them with garlic, onions, salt and pepper in olive oil. It wasn’t fancy or as good as my Mom’s beans, but it was quick nourishment and easy on my very shallow college pocketbook.
Nowadays, I still keep a few cans of beans on hand for those emergencies, but I always lean toward dried beans whenever possible. For the last year or so, I’ve usually flown in my ration of dried heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, all the way across the country. I felt bad about the carbon emissions, but wanted dried heirloom beans and they find awesome varieties.
Thank goodness – about two months ago, I discovered Baer’s Best Beans, great beans that are hand-picked on the North shore of Boston, about 15 minutes from my home and very near to my organic farm, Green Meadows. Baer’s doesn’t have a website, but here’s a great article from last year.
I am very gentle with my dried beans. I saute them in a pan with a mirepoix of celery, carrots and onions. In the batch pictured above, I added some thinly sliced jalapeno, as well as bay leaves and thyme. After the vegetables have softened, I add some combination of white wine, broth and water. The combo is really up to you. Boil, then cover and simmer until the beans are tender. Make sure to stop the cooking process before the beans get too mushy, unless you plan on pureeing them in the blender for a Mexican meal.
Surprisingly so, my husband ate these. He’s Irish and Irish don’t eat beans unless their far sweeter. But he liked these enough to have seconds. I like them as is, but we piled them over some white rice and sprinkled some slivered limed onions on top. I don’t have any finished dish photos, but I think their far prettier during the cooking process, when they still have their vivid color, don’t you?