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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beans for luck in 2013.

We made it through 2012 my friends. Another year done and in the books. There is an old tradition to serve beans early in the new year. Beans symbolize potential growth and luck for the new year. Great way to use up that Christmas ham-bone, grab a tug of herbs from your winter garden, some aromatics and go nuts. You DID save that ham-bone didn't you?



1 ham-bone. Trim as much flesh off as you can. Reserve until later. If it's not perfectly bare, that's just fine.
Mirepoix. Carrots, celery, onion.
fresh clove garlic
handfuls of whatever fresh herbs you have lying around, today I have some Cilantro, Rosemary and Basil but Sage, Thyme, Parsley, all work. No wrong answers.
2-3 dry Bay-leaf
2 pounds of rinsed, dried great northern beans.
maybe some spicy sausage, I did today but you don't have to. I had some Cajon Andouille.
Dry Sherry (hey, if you don't have Sherry, use a touch of dry Vermouth or nothing at all, it's ok)
One big pot

If you have time, soak the beans overnight in water. If you don't (and I don't) you can cheat.

Rinse off the beans in a colander, pick out anything that looks weird.

Can I just say how much I love my French enameled colander? 

check out the long-handled wooden spoon I got for Christmas
Dump all beans into your pot and fill with 3 times the volume with water (1 pound is 16 oz, three times the volume is..?) . Put in 1/2  Onion, skin on. Some Carrot ends, Celery ends. Some of the Herb stems. Bring it up to boiling. Add that ham-bone and immediately take off heat and let it sit for 3 hours. Yes, three hours, it's a lot shorter than over-night isn't it?

FUN FACTS about beans. All Legumes contain complex carbohydrates and simple proteins. If you combine them with another complex carb' they make a complete protein. That's why Mom gave us whole wheat bread with our peanut-butter. That's why, down-south they do beans and rice. That's why in Asia, it's soybeans and rice. Neat huh?

 While your beans are soaking, medium dice up the mirepoix. Also smoosh up that garlic clove. Mince up those herbs. Get some Black Pepper ready. This is really just a chop and dump.
herbs and mirepoix

 Dig out the vegetable scraps and herb stems from the pot, discard. Reserve the ham-bone. Turn the heat on high. What that soaking did was create a big pot of ham-and-bean stock. It also allowed those beans to soften and that reduces our cooking time by like a million years. Seriously, a million. Dinosaurs would evolve into pigeons in the amount of time it would take otherwise.

 If you're adding some spicy sausage to stretch this out, just chop it up and brown off in a large, wide pan. Remove to paper towels and let drain. Reserve until later.

Browned Andouille
did I mention the long-handled wooden spoon I got for Christmas? 
 Your pot is getting hot now isn't it? Add those dried Bay-leaves now. Once you reach boiling, check the surface, if you see any brown scum gathering on the surface, remove with a sharp-sided spoon and make it go away. Add all the vegetables. Take back down to a long, slow simmer. Add the herbs and a big pinch of cracked black pepper.

 Notice I haven't said anything about salt yet? Ham is our salt today. Didn't see that coming did you?

 Simmer until beans are done, maybe 2 hours. Grab one or two and smear between your fingers (hands are the best tools)
If they smear with no resistance they're done. If you have any scraps of Ham from the bone, add now. Add the sausage and turn off heat. Stir. Shhh add a scant handful of rice while still simmering to maximize the protein. It'll be our secret. Let it cook for another 20 minutes or so.

HEY Nick !! What about the Sherry? I didn't forget. Add a glug to the pot just before serving. Stir some more.

add the Sherry

 Maybe a bit right on top the bowl. Garnish with a sprig of fresh herb. Serve with some good crusty bread. It's my hug to you across the miles.
it's good now, even better the next day

My friends, I bid you much joy and prosperity for 2013. Whatever comes next, at the very least we are...

..Cooking poor, eating rich 
Get your grub on


  1. Gosh I love you Nick! You even make beans look delicious and I hate beans! Enjoy your lucky beans :) ~Ricki

    1. "Hate" beans is an understatement. This girl RUNS from beans...seriously...I've witnessed it.

  2. Mmm...that looks SO good. AND I learned about mirepoix. :-)

  3. Gosh I love you both, Ricki and my Suzie. Beans aren't anything to be scared of.