[50] Cooked Beans, the Quick Soak Way

How to Cook Everything, Revised Edition by Mark Bittman

Hooray! We’ve managed 50 recipes so far. I know we really could have been chugging along at a better pace, given when we started, but I’m still pretty pleased with 50 recipes. If nothing else, it means we’re still both dedicated to making this work.

Plus, it’s been a lot of fun.

So last night was one of those wonderful nights where we managed several recipes at once. In that case, it was three. It was looking like it’d just be two, but I realized I had never made dried beans before, and wanted to give it a go. Plus, this way, once the power goes out for three days this upcoming winter, we can eat the canned beans we have. It’s like we’re survivalists! We have canned food and a manual can opener. Only we’re really not survivalists. And the power better not go out like that this winter. To quote Rosa and Bill, “I’m just saying.”

h2. Ingredients

1 lb rinsed & picked over dried beans, any but lentils, split peas or peeled & split beans
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Water or other liquid, as needed

h2. Instructions

Put the beans in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, and cover with cold water (or other liquid) by 2 – 3 inches. Bring the water to a boil, and boil uncovered for about two minutes. Cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the beans soak for two hours.

Taste a bean. If it’s tender, add a large pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Make sure the beans are covered with about an inch of liquid, adding more if necessary. If the bean is still hard, don’t add any salt yet, and make sure they are covered with about two inches of liquid (again, adding as necessary).

Bring the pot to a boil, then adjust the heat such that the liquid bubbles gently. Partially cover and cook, stirring infrequently and checking for doneness every 10 – 15 minutes. Add water as necessary. If you haven’t added salt and pepper yet, add them as the beans are just starting to turn tender. Stop cooking when the beans are done the way you like them. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed, then use immediately or store.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

I have to admit, how hard is it to dump some liquid and some beans together, boil once, let sit, then boil again? There was some time commitment, but that was no biggie. Heck, during the “let sit” stage of the afternoon, I let Bill take me out for a super fast lunch, and then went downstairs to the fitness room to work out. Unless you count the challenge of 30 minutes on the elliptical machine as part of this recipe, I’d have to say it couldn’t get much easier.

This recipe says it makes about six to eight servings, and I believe it. The recipe we made using these beans only used about half of it, and was supposed to serve four.

For the record, my cooking liquid was about half water and half chicken stock. It smelled lovely, and probably flavored the beans a little, but not a lot. I made black beans this time, and they took between an hour and an hour and a half to cook (after the “let sit” portion).

h3. Consumption

I cooked the beans fairly firm, for no reason other than I tasted them and said, “Sure! This seems good.” I guess I was trying to distinguish the beans from canned beans, which do not have a lot of firmness going on.

They were super “beany”, which I really liked. Depending on what I do with them, next time I’ll make them with all chicken stock, just to see if that enhances them further.

Bill did not like the beans done as they were. While he enjoyed the dish I made with them, he felt the beans weren’t cooked enough. Obviously, this is a matter of utter personal opinion. Of course, Bill is completely WRONG, and you will be too if you overcook them.

I’m just saying.