Tuesday, January 28, 2020

creamy braised white beans.

Back in October of last year, I signed up for the Rancho Gordo Bean club.  If you’re not familiar with Rancho Gordo, they are an heirloom dried bean company based in California that works with farmers to grow long-forgotten or previously hard to find varieties of beans (along with more common bean types).  Their beans are a real game changer – super beautiful, incredibly flavorful, and very fresh -  the beans cook up far faster than anything you can buy in a supermarket.  I honestly think signing up for this bean club is the best thing I’ve done in a while. 

As you can imagine, we are now eating a lot of beans which is both good for us and good for the environment.  Since joining, I’ve been cooking a pound of beans every weekend and then pushing myself to come up with new recipes/ways to eat them (though if we are being honest, my preferred meal is a simple bowl of beans in served with a little bean broth, olive oil, and a piece of really good bread).  It’s been fun.  It’s also nice coming home and having one meal component done and then just figuring out how to toss it all together.

I’ve been cooking a LOT of different recipes (and experimenting with homemade bean burgers) but so far, the best thing I’ve made, and the dish I keep coming back to is this Creamy Braised White beans.   This is pure comfort food and the kind of thing I feel like I could eat daily if you let me.  It’s easily adaptable – I’ve thrown spinach or arugula into it.  I’ve been known to top it with comte instead of parmesan.  I’ve made it with a couple of different vartities of white beans and all of them are great.   The original recipe calls for canned  but it is so much better with the real deal beans.   

I just wrote 325 words on beans and I think I could still write 500 more.  

Creamy Braised White Beans
Recipe Adapted from the NYTimes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 cup whole milk
30 ounces white beans (any kind or a combination of 2 kinds) + ¾ - 1 cup bean broth (though you may decide you want additional broth)
1 thyme sprig, 2 sage leaves or 1 bay leaf
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg, allspice or garam masala
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 slices crusty bread or thick toast
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Freshly grated Parmesan, comte, or another favorite cheese, for serving
Aleppo pepper or red-pepper flakes, for serving

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cut side down, and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the milk, beans and their liquid, thyme and nutmeg and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper. When the mixture begins to bubble around the edges of the pan (you don’t want it to come to a full boil), reduce the heat to low and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened and tastes great to you, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Use a fork to remove the garlic halves from the beans. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then use the fork to remove the cloves from the skins. Spread the cloves on bread or toast.

If you would like the beans to be more stew-like, mash some of the beans using a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Serve beans and milk in bowls. Garnish as you wish, with a drizzle of oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan and a pinch of Aleppo pepper and black pepper. Serve with the bread alongside for dipping.

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