The bean dates back to the very beginnings of our civilization. They have been found buried in tombs in Egypt and also, deep inside ancient caves in Peru.
It has been at dinner tables just about as far back as we can tell and with good reason. With an average of nine and a half grams of protein per serving the bean makes for a very healthy way to get that “full” feeling that comes at the end of a satisfying meal.
There are thousands of varieties of beans in the world, so naturally there are limitless possibilities for preparation. This weeks recipe is from an era when beans were invaluable because of their nutrients and shelf life when dried. This could easily be just about any era in the history of beans but I am specifically thinking about the westward wagon trains of the early United States.
Here is my recipe for “Cowboy Beans.” Enjoy!
2 cups Pinto or Red beans (soaked overnight, rinsed and sorted)
1 ham hock (optional, you can use vegetable stock for more flavour)
1/2 large yellow onion 1/2 inch dice
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 jalapeño (seeded and chopped)
1 bay leaf
6 tablespoons chilli powder
4 cups water (vegetable stock if desired)
1 cup ale (any domestic beer will be fine, use what you like)
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a Dutch oven, add beans, ham hock, chilli powder, onion, garlic, beer, jalapeño, bay leaf and water. Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook covered for about two hours stirring occasionally. If the liquid level gets low you should add about a cup of hot water and bring back up to a simmer, making sure there is about a 1/4 inch of liquid above the level of the beans at all times. Cook until beans are tender, serve hot.
Here are some delicious events coming up over the next week that I found on Brown Paper Tickets. All feature foods that should warm your soul during these chilly winter months:
Monday, January 21st
Cold Weather, Hot Soups – Now We’re Cookin’ – Evanston, Illinois
Feral Feasts – Seattle, Washington
Wednesday, January 23rd
Saburba Dinner at Sietsema Orchard~Exploring Brazil! – Ada, Michigan