Alexis deBoschnek's spicy brothy bacony beans
It took me years to figure out how to make a good pot of beans. Time is the secret ingredient. If your beans aren’t tender enough, just keep cooking them. If the liquid evaporates, add a splash of water or stock until the beans are covered and just keep cooking them some more. Taste a few; when they’re soft and taste almost creamy, they’re ready. Serve the beans with some crusty bread, pile them on a taco, spooned over rice, or eat them straight from the pot like I do.
The real joy of dried beans is much the same as homemade stock: you can make them to suit your tastes. I call for bacon here, but if you don’t have it (or want a vegetarian option), leave it out. Fennel stalks, dried chilies, and herbs like thyme and parsley are great flavor boosters.
When it comes to the beans themselves, I’m partial to cranberry beans, but this recipe works with nearly any type—pinto, great northern beans, black beans, even chickpeas. I like to soak my beans overnight, which speeds up the cooking time the next day, but you don’t have to; just know that they’ll take a bit longer once on the stove. – Alexis deBoschnek
- 1 pound dried cranberry beans or dried beans of choice
- 4 ounces bacon, cut into ½-inch slices
- 1 yellow onion, cut into eighths
- 3 large garlic cloves, lightly smashed
- 1 medium jalapeño, halved
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 Parmesan rind
- 5 sprigs parsley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
Pick through the beans, discarding any broken ones or other debris. Place the beans in a large bowl. Fill with cold water to cover the beans by at least 3 inches. Soak the beans at room temperature for 12 hours, or overnight. Drain the beans in a colander, shaking off any excess water.
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the pot is hot, add the bacon and cook for about 8 minutes, or until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.
Add the onion to the pot and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is browned at the edges and beginning to soften. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook until the garlic is golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the beans, stock, Parmesan rind, parsley, and olive oil to the pot, making sure the beans are covered by at least 2 inches of stock. If not, add water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beans begin to soften, about 2 hours. Season with salt and cook until the beans are tender and creamy, about 45 minutes more. Stir in the bacon and taste for seasoning, adding more salt as necessary. The beans can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Excerpted from To the Last Bite: Recipes and Ideas for Making the Most of Your Ingredients by Alexis deBoschnek with permission from Simon & Schuster.