Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jacob's Cattle Bean and Ham Stew

These beautiful red and white speckled Jacob's cattle beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm are an heirloom variety from Prince Edward Island, which, according to legend, were a gift from Maine's Passamaquoddy Native Americans to Joseph Clark, the first child of European decent born in Lubec, Maine. They're described as holding their shape well during cooking, so they seemed like a good choice for a hearty bean stew. 

I had been saving the bone from a bone-in-ham we'd baked for just such a stew. Then this week's New York Times Dining section had a recipe by Melissa Clark about ham bone soup, with shredded cabbage cooked into a silky broth. Returning from the Hideaway Farmers Market, where I'd picked up a lovely little cabbage and some parsnips and yellow beets from Cinco Estrella Farms, I realized that I had all the ingredients in the house to make a similar dish.

First I got the frozen ham bone simmering in some water, while I chopped the cabbage, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and a serrano pepper for a little heat. 

Then I combined all these with the Jacob's cattle beans, ham bone, and water in a slow cooker to cook on low for 4 hours, until the beans were tender and the cabbage had dissolved into the broth. Even though we'd carved our ham conscientiously, after simmering the bone released an amazing amount of meat that I shred and added back to the pot, turning the dish into a substantial stew.

I still had those beets and parsnips, which I'd been planning to roast, and it occurred to me that they might make a nice garnish for the stew, as a sort of riff on a tarka.

They were gorgeous when peeled, and delicious when chopped and roasted in olive oil. The final dish was a real one pot meal with the hearty beans and ham in their silky broth contrasting nicely with the sweet roasted vegetables.

Jacob's Cattle Bean and Ham Stew with Roasted Vegetable Garnish

For the stew
1 ham bone or ham hock
2 cups (1 lb) Jacob's cattle beans, rinsed, or substitute kidney beans
1 small or 1/2 regular cabbage, chopped well
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 celery stocks, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
7 cups water

For the garnish
6 parsnips, peeled and chopped into chunks
6 small beets, peeled and chopped into chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a slow cooker or soup pot, combine all of the stew ingredients. Cook on low for about 4 hours until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. If cooking on the stovetop you may need less time and more water to maintain a thick stew consistency. Remove the ham bone or hock from the pot, shred the ham from the bone, and return the meat to the pot. Adjust seasonings to taste.

2. About 45 minutes before you plan to serve the soup, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel and chop the parsnips and beets. In an oven safe dish, toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned. Serve the stew with a spoonful of roasted vegetables on top.

Other heirloom bean recipes:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Calypso Beans with Ginger and Black Mustard Seeds

These black and white calypso beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm are so striking that they inspired me to create an entire black and white meal, like the Ascott opening race scene from My Fair Lady

I've been reading more recipes for Indian bean dishes and noticed that many of them, rather than starting with aromatics sauteed in oil to create a broth for the beans, instead simmer the beans first and then finish them off with a tarka, or sizzling topping of oil, spices, and aromatics. For the calypso beans, I decided to simmer them in coconut milk, similar to these red lentils, and then finish them with a tarka of ginger and black mustard seeds.

In a slow cooker I combined the beans, some chopped white onion, minced garlic and ginger, ground cumin and coriander, coconut milk, and water. A traditional Indian dal would cook the beans until they are very soft, but for these calypsos I cooked them just until tender, which I noticed was just at the point when their black coloring lightened to brown.

Then I prepared a rich tarka of diced ginger and black mustard seeds sauteed in butter, and stirred this into the beans. To accompany them, I prepared some black and white rice (wild rice stirred into jasmine). And for a vegetable side, roasted cauliflower. The final meal wasn't as starkly black and white as George Cukor's sets, but the contrasting flavors and textures were delicious. The fragrant coconut milk and punch of ginger nicely complimented the potato flavor of the calypso beans without overpowering them, and these went well with the nutty rice and roasted cauliflower with caramelized onions.

Calypso Beans in Coconut Milk with Ginger and Black Mustard Seed Tarka

2 cups (1 lb) calypso beans, rinsed
1 white onion, chopped
1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
2 1/2 cups water
salt to taste

for the tarka
1 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil
1 inch ginger root, peeled and finely diced
1 tsp black mustard seeds

1. In a slow cooker or stovetop pot, combine the beans, onion, ginger, garlic, spices, coconut milk and water and cook with low heat, stirring occasionally (if using a slow cooker, swish the pot around rather than open the lid) until the beans are soft and have just turned from black to brown. In my slow cooker, the beans were done after 3 hours on the low setting.

2. To prepare the tarka, heat the butter or oil and saute the ginger and mustard seeds over medium-low heat for at least five minutes until the mixture is fragrant. Stir into the beans and serve.

Other heirloom bean recipes:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ireland Creek Annie Bean Bruschetta

These lovely light golden and beige Ireland Creek Annie beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm are an English heirloom variety grown since the 1930's on Ireland Creek Farm in British Columbia. Like the Dutch bullets, these make their own creamy sauce when cooked. I wanted to try making a bean spread for bruschetta, and these seemed like a good choice for a mellow, earthy flavor. 

I cooked 2 cups of beans in 4 cups of water for 3 hours on low in a slow cooker (no pre-soaking necessary, but I gave the pot some vigorous swirls during the cooking process to stir the beans without opening the lid) until they were soft and saucy. Then I salted them generously.

To flavor the bean spread, I roasted garlic cloves in a dry skillet until their skins were blackened in spots and the insides were soft and fragrant. In a food processor, I combined the peeled garlic with two cups of the cooked beans (reserving the rest for other uses) and a generous drizzle of olive oil and blended this into a smooth paste. As a contrast to this rich and pungent spread, I also made a romesco sauce to layer onto the bruschetta.

I roasted a red pepper over the burner until the skin was charred, and then let it steam in a covered bowl before scraping off the skin.

Meanwhile, I toasted almond slivers in a dry skillet until fragrant.

I combined these with smoked paprika and a drizzle of red wine vinegar in the food processor and blended until the almonds had just been pulverized but the sauce still had some texture.

The two spreads were perfectly contrasting: the beans smooth, earthy, rich and mellow, and the romesco brightly colored, with the crunch of the almonds, the sharpness of the vinegar, and the kick of the paprika.

I layered the bean spread, followed by a stripe of romesco, onto slices of baguette from Eugene City Bakery, let them heat for a minute in a hot skillet with a film of olive oil on the bottom, and then stuck this under the broiler for 5 minutes until the bread was crisp around the edges.

These were the perfect accompaniment for pumpkin soup with gruyere cheese

Ireland Creek Annie Bean Bruschetta with Romesco Sauce

Bean spread
2 cups cooked Ireland Creek Annie Beans (or substitute white kidney beans)
5-6 garlic cloves
~1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste.

Romesco Sauce
1 red pepper
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt to taste

For the bruschetta
1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal
olive oil

1. To make the bean spread, roast the garlic cloves in a dry skillet until the skin is blackened in spots and the garlic is soft. Combine all of the ingredient in a food processor and blend until very smooth. Add salt to taste.

2. To make the romesco sauce, char the red pepper over an open flame or in the oven until the skin is blackened. Place in a bowl covered with a plate to steam off the skin. Toast the almond slivers and place in a food processor. Scrape off the charred skin from the pepper, remove stem and seeds and add to food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process into a course paste.

3. To make the bruschetta, preheat the broiler. Spread a thick layer of the bean spread on each baguette slice, followed by a strip of romesco sauce. Heat an oven-safe skillet and coat lightly with olive oil. Add the bruschetta to the pan and let sizzle for a minute, then put the pan under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the baguette slices are toasted.

The bean spread, with a layer of romesco sauce on top if you wish, also makes nice dip for raw vegetables or toasted pita triangles.

Other heirloom bean recipes:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lemon and Herb Dutch Bullet Beans

The Lonesome Whistle Farm's description of their Dutch bullet beans says they make their own cream sauce when cooked. In my previous preparation, I'd diluted them into soup, but I wondered if this sauciness could be used to make a bean version of a risotto. One of my favorite risotto recipes is a lemony and herb infused version from Patricia Well's Trattoria. I used this as the inspiration for these beans.

First I sauteed some chopped leeks in olive oil for a mild onion flavor.  

In my slow cooker I combined the leeks, 2 cups of Dutch bullet beans, 4 cups of chicken broth, red pepper flakes, the peel of a lemon, and several springs of rosemary and thyme. I let these cook for about 2 hours, until soft and creamy. To finish them off, I added the juice of the lemon. The beans had an assertive lemony, herb flavor and were delicious served with garlicy sauteed Italian kale and chicken sausages.

Lemon and Herb Dutch Bullet Bean "Risotto"

2 cups (1 lb) dutch bullet beans, or substitute small white kidney beans, rinsed
1 leek, white and light green part washed and shopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lemon
2 sprigs rosemary
4 springs thyme
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt to taste

Sautee the chopped leeks and red pepper flakes in olive oil until soft. Add the stock, rinsed dried beans, herbs, and the peel of the lemon (in one strip if possible, for easier retrieval). Cook on high in a slow cooker until the beans are soft and have formed a cream sauce, about two hours. Add a little more liquid if it looks too dry, but you don't want the final dish to be too soupy. Finish by removing the lemon rind and herb stems, stirring in the juice from the lemon and salting to taste. Serve with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Other heirloom bean recipes:
Minty green flageolet beans
Dutch bullet beans and roasted squash soup

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Minty Green Flageolet Beans

Another of our Lonesome Whistle Farm CSA heirloom beans are these lovely pale green and slender Green Flageolet. They were originally cultivated in France and Italy. With all of Eugene caught up in anticipation of the UO Ducks playing for the National Championship title on Monday, I was inspired to come up with a green and yellow meal that showed off our school colors.

I thought the pale minty green of the beans could be accentuated by a mint and parsley pesto.

This I mixed in after the beans had cooked to tenderness, so that they had a fresh, bright herb flavor.

For a yellow vegetable side, I sauteed a diced parsnip and carrot in butter and then added in two chopped yellow peppers and cooked until they started to caramelize.

Meanwhile, Eric prepared some sea scallops wrapped in bacon under the broiler.

The scallops were succulent and the delicate green-flecked flageolet beans were scrumptious with the sweet peppers and earthy root vegetables. I'm planning to use the leftover beans and peppers in a salad on Monday. Not your typical football fare, but a delicious way to show school spirit. Go Ducks!

Minty Green Flageolet Beans

1 lb (2 cups) dried flageolet beans, sorted and rinsed
4 cups water or chicken broth
~5 sprigs mint
~10 sprigs flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. If you like, soak the beans for a few hours. Then drain and simmer in 4 cups water or stock uncovered on very low heat until tender but intact. Most of the liquid should be absorbed by this point.

2. To prepare the pesto, combine the mint and parsley leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and puree. Stir into the beans once they are completely cooked.

Other heirloom bean recipes:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Choucroute Garnie

The German side of my family adheres to the tradition of having sauerkraut on New Year's Day. Eating plenty of sauerkraut is supposed to bring wealth in the coming year, although another interpretation of this tradition holds that sauerkraut is a good antidote to over-drinking on New Year's Eve. In our household, in keeping with the Alsatian roots of the French side of my family, we make Choucroute Garnie, a version of sauerkraut prepared in Alsace-Lorraine with plenty of white wine and juniper berries and garnished with an assortment of meats. This year I tried making the choucroute in a slow cooker, which worked very well.

In Strasbourg one might start the dish with succulent duck fat, but I started it with some thick slices of smoked bacon, which I cooked in the stovetop compatible pan of my slow cooker (one could also use a large Dutch oven) until the fat was rendered and the pieces had started to brown. To this I added chopped onion and celery (the latter being somewhat heretical, but I thought it would add complexity), which I sauteed until glassy. Then I added four bags worth of sauerkraut, rinsed and drained, some dry white wine and chicken stock, and the spices: juniper berries, whole pepper corns, bay leaves, a scant pinch of caraway seeds, and a single clove.

On top of this I layered a bunch of parsley and fresh thyme sprigs, and left the pot to simmer on medium heat for about 5 hours.

About two hours before serving, I seared thick pork chops in butter, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and tucked these into the choucroute, along with some sliced carrots. I used another cup of white wine to deglaze the pan from the chops and added this to the pot as well. The addition of carrots is also somewhat heretical, but Julia Child's version includes them, and I think they add a nice note of sweetness, and some additional texture when not overcooked.

Finally, before serving the choucroute I cooked up some bratwurst, deglazed the pan with the last of the wine, and added these to the pot, along with some frankfurters. Choucroute garnie is the classic one pot meal and only needs some boiled potatoes as an accompaniment. This recipe makes plenty for a crowd, even one hungry for wealth.

Choucroute Garnie
serves 8-10

For the choucroute
4 lb sauerkraut (in bags)
6 thick slices of smoked bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped (optional)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced (optional)
2 tsp juniper berries
4 bay leaves
1 tsp whole pepper corns
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1 clove
several sprigs of parsley and thyme
1 bottle dry white wine, such as a pino gris
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

For the garnie
4 thick bone-in pork chops, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 bratwurst
4 frankfurters
1 Tbsp butter

1. Cook the bacon pieces until they start to brown and the fat is rendered. Add the onion and celery, if using, and saute these in the bacon fat until soft. Add the rinsed and drained sauerkraut, 2 1/2 cups of white wine, and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. Mix in the spcies and layer on the bunch of parsley and thyme. Let simmer on medium heat in a slow cooker for about 5 hours, or cook in a low heat oven for about 2 hours.

2. About 2 hours before serving, discard the herb bundle and stir in the sliced carrots. Heat a skillet, add the butter and when it starts to brown, add the pork chops in batches. Cook a couple minutes per side until browned. Nestle the pork chops into the pot so that they are completely covered. Use a cup of wine to deglaze the pork chop pan and add this to the pot.

3. About 15 minutes before serving, heat the skillet and cook the bratwurst until browned and cooked through. Add these to the choucroute pot and use the last of the wine to deglaze the pan one more time. Tuck the frankfurters in the choucroute pot to warm them. Serve with boiled potatoes.