Thursday, December 11, 2008

How Many Beans Can You Count in This Picture?

I'm not a big fan of some kinds of beans, but I love 10-Bean Soup. Some packages even boast 16 Beans (I've never counted, so I'll take their word for it!) 10-Bean soup is actually a mixture of dried beans and peas. and it makes the most delicious beans and rice dish.

The first step to any kind of beans is to soak them. The basic method is to use about 2 quarts of water for a regular-sized package of beans, and to soak for several hours or overnight. Since I usually forget to put my beans on to soak the night before, I usually do the boil-and-soak method.

Put the beans in the pot, and cover with a couple of inches of water. Bring them to a rolling boil, then put the lid on the pot and turn off the burner. Let them soak at least 30 minutes. Afterwards, they'll look something like this:

Be sure to discard the soak water, no matter whether you used the boil-and-soak method or the traditional overnight soak. I pour mine into a colander and rinse them, as well. Then put the beans back into the pot, and cover with fresh water.

Getting rid of the soak water is the secret to making good beans that don't, how can I say this? Give you gas. You remember the old schoolyard rhyme? "Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you'll..." You know. Toot. There's something about discarding the soak water that discards the not-so-sweet after effects, too.

But I digress. After you've covered them with fresh water, bring the whole thing to a boil again. At this point, I start to add some of my seasoning. (Brief endorsement here--I love Tone's beef and chicken stock base. It's like bullion, only it's a paste. It has a higher fat content than the dry powder, and I think a richer taste. I also use the Tones dried onion flakes. I happen to like the flavor that onion gives to many dishes, but not the "mouth feel" I guess, of biting into a piece of onion, so I use dried onions almost exclusively. I get these in large containers at Sam's Club.) This week I used the chicken base, because that's what I had already opened (!) I put about a tablespoon of the chicken base, and then 2 or 3 tablespoons of dried onion flakes.

Once the beans returned to a boil, I put a couple of boneless skinless chicken thighs in there, straight from frozen. After the chicken was cooked through, I fished it back out and diced it, then added it back to the beans, along with some cooked ground meat (leftover from an earlier recipe.) I let all of it simmer until the large beans were tender, At that point I added my other secret seasoning--a liberal dose of Tony Chay Chay's (Tone Cachere's!) seasoning blend.

And then, because I am from Louisiana, after all, I served it all over rice. Yum.

And here is the finished product. I'm not a food stylist, so it doesn't look the greatest, but trust me, it's delicious. (And no bad after-effect!)
Happy cooking, and happy eating!

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