Saturday, July 18, 2009

midnight special: spiced beans, cabbage and egg

Sometimes I wake up beside a half-eaten sandwich. Sometimes I wake up alone. Whatever the case, I always wake up--it just keeps on happening--and often my belly is full when I do. Last night I came home from the bar, wrote several poems, none of which I remember nor care to, and then decided that I should absolutely make myself this sandwich. Spiced kidney beans, granary bread from Bread Euphoria, a slathering of cream cheese, shredded raw Hadley cabbage, and one Diemand Farm egg, sunny side up.

Glory be, hosanna in the highest. Let me tell you about the spiced beans:

Spiced beans (your choice):

First and foremost, these spiced beans are a variation on the re-fried bean recipe I've been honing since oh-seven. Classic re-fried beans, or frijoles refritos, are usually made with pinto beans and lard. My hunch is that because dry pinto beans are cheaper per pound than any other bean, and thus the most-wallet friendly bean, they are thus the basis of this staple food. But let's face it, all dry beans are cheap, so there must be other reasons, and so some deductive reasoning tells us that pinto beans are probably (a) the most readily available bean, or (b) that pinto beans become ultra smooth when fully cooked, i.e. perfect for re-fried beans (which is a mistranslation; it really means "well fried" beans), or that (c) none of this really matters and I am simply enjoying typing. Right, spiced beans...

It is best to start with dry beans. Soak your beans over night and drain the soaking water in the morning. If you have houseplants, which is not a mistranslation, reserve the bean water for your plants.

Rinse and drain your beans until the water runs clear. Add enough cold, fresh water to your beans to cover them and then some. If you wish, add some garlic cloves, peppercorns, and a bay leaf to your pot (they bay leaf will make your beans more digestible), bring your beans to a boil, let them boil for a few minutes, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until finished, stirring ocassionally. DO NOT SALT YOUR BEANS UNTIL THEY ARE FULLY COOKED. If you add salt too soon, their casings will become tough. Salt your beans appropriately when they are still hot. Stir.

In a large, heavy pot or big cast iron skillet, sautee onions, chili flakes, black pepper, and whole spices: coriander seeds, cumin seeds. If you use a variety of chili flakes, you will get a "rounder" more complex flavor.

When your onions are somewhat caramelized, and when the aroma of your spices is unbearably amazing, go ahead and toss in some chopped garlic if you like. When the garlic (if using garlic) becomes aromatic, dump in a pile of beans and enough of your cooked bean water to cover them--you want them to look like little islands, bobbing in a beany sea--and simmer them on medium heat until they are almost dry. Then add a pretty good hunk of butter. Don't be shy. The butter will make your beans smoother. Finally, add some honey or agave syrup. Here, be shy. You don't want to make candy. You want just enough sweetness to take the sharp, metallic edge off your spiced beans. Finally finally, if your beans are dry, add more liquid or butter. If you want to mash some of the beans--highly recommended--do that. You will be happy. Eat them and go directly to bed.

oh, p.s., I now use whole spices instead of ground spices in this recipe because their flavors still permeate the beans, but you also get delightful little pops of flavor when you chomp into a whole coriander or cumin seed. And one could always experiment with other whole spices.

1 comment:

niina said...

A fellow poet foodie. I love it. I have linked you. Hello!