Monday, January 25, 2010

Four Bean Stew

It's four beans because that's what I happened to have on hand. My mixture consisted of red lentils, black-eyed peas, small white beans , and red beans. It could just have easily been 5 or 6 different kinds of beans. Back in 2007, I posted a recipe for ham and black eyed peas. I think I've added to my cooking skills since then. So, here my 2010 recipe for ham and beans stew. I'm calling it a stew because it is thicker than a soup. We cooked a a shank end ham for the holidays. The nice thing about a ham is that so many meals can be made, there is lots of ham for sandwiches, and the bone anchors a great soup or stew.

Recipe #34 Ham and mixed bean stew

Ham bone
1 pound cooked ham
2 cups mixed dried beans (about one pound)
1 chopped onion
1 chopped celery stick
1 chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cooking oil

(1)Soak the beans first. This hot-soak method is from the Central Bean company page.

After sorting and rinsing the beans, in a large pot add 10 cups of water for each pound (2 cups) of dry beans. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes, remove from heat, cover and stand at least 1 hour (quick-soak method), but preferably 4 hours or more; maximum 24 hours. (The longer soaking time is recommended to allow a greater amount of sugar to dissolve, thus helping the beans to be more easily digested.) Whether you soak the beans for one hour or several, discard soak water; rinse beans and pan. Return beans to pan, add fresh cold water to fully cover the beans.
The sugar they are refering to, is the undigestable sugars that can cause gas. This method reduces those sugars and softens the beans. Long cooking also reduces the problem.

(2) When the beans have soaked and are ready to cook add a small amount of oil to your cooking pot. Cook the chopped vegtables. Add the chunks of ham and the bone. If you have a few peieces of the rind with attached fat, throw those in the pot too. A little fat will add a lot of flavor.

(3) Add the rinsed and soaked beans. Add only enough water to cover the beans. Add the molasses and sugar. These will help maintain the structure of the beans as they cook. Simmer gently for 3 or more hours. Cooking times vary, some recipes give times of one or 1 ½ hours, but the high altitude of Colorado generally requires more time.

(4) When the beans are cooked to your liking, remove the bone and larger pieces of meat. Cut meat into bite sized chunks. Before returning the meat to the pot use a stick blender to puree some of the beans. This will thicken your dish and give a nice texture to the soup/stew.

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