Thursday, February 05, 2009

Q & A with Paprikahead: Pot o' Beans and an Accidental Reduction

This, from a Hamster Reader:

Subject: recipe for big pot o beans?

you got one for me lady? i got bags of dried beans and want these suckers good good good. mmmm good.

-A Hamster Reader

p.s. and then i looked to the stove. it's on!, i thunk, and not like friday night hipsters going to the demolition derby. no, no. like the stove, it's on, like still turned on from the night before! and this is what i found.

turned to the lowest heat available the [pumpkin] soup had reduced all through the night (lid on with tiny hole for air passage) to this kind of thick, creamy looking goodnees. the top of it had this thick, thick skin that reminded me of, well, burned, charred pizza sauce. it was unlike anything i have ever seen, really, but i knew it was awesome from the first. and it was. the taste of this here sucker is sweet as candy, the texture thicker than chile, like a kind of paste for toast or something. i feel like the guy that *happened* upon blighted rye and tripped balls and gave the world the wee secret of acid, two hundred years before it was synthesized. or something like that. anyway, i thought you would like this story and that maybe it would make a smile.

Dear Hamster,

For the beans: first, soak them overnight in three times their volume of water. Drain them in the morning, fill the pot with fresh water, and bring them to a simmer. Simmer simmer simmer. Throw in some onions, ham bone or bacon, carrots, tomatoes, celery. Make them a little sweet -- molasses is good (with care!). Some apple cider vinegar for tanginess. And a lot of salt, but only after the beans are soft, because the salt will make their skins tough if you add it too soon. They should simmer all day, in proportion to their size.

I'm so happy your pumpkin soup reduction was magnificent and not disastrous! It sounds like a good task for a crock-pot, akin to making tomato paste or apple butter. I think I'll try to replicate it with the pumpkin on my counter.


Anonymous said...

on MY counter

Ken Albala said...

Very good advice my dear. Haven't spoken to you in ages. I was thinkng about you this past weekend. I did a whole pig. I should have invited you, but it was so last minute. Yours,Ken

Jennifer Jo said...

Isn't it bad to add tomatoes to not-fully-cooked beans? Don't they also harden the skins?


Rosanna said...

You're right, JJ, the tomatoes are acidic, which will also cause the bean skins to toughen. I should have assigned a more specific duration to "simmer simmer simmer"! Like, simmer while you do your laundry.