Saturday, July 12, 2008
Simple Joys of Summer.
Ahhh... the simple joys, indeed. You ever make something so deliciously simple that you want to share it with everyone?
I have started trying to be much more economical with my groceries. Who hasn't these days?! One of the best things I have found, is that making "refried" beans (which aren't actually "refried") from scratch (or scraps, as my daughter used to say) is so amazingly better than canned. OK, we all know that fresh is better than canned. Granted. But, BUT, I have a little trick that makes them taste so good, you will remember to soak the beans the evening before. Seriosuly. I forget EV-E-REEEE-THING, and I have made these twice. So, let me write down this receipe for you, before I forget how to make them myself.
So, you get some good beans. Beans - beans are CHEAP, right? So get yourself some good ones at your local Co-op if you can. Oranganic. Beans can get old, so either buy them at a Coop or at a Mexican Tienda. Soak them overnight - about 8 hours.
Toss out the floaters. (Just saying that makes me *really* want to toss them out. Wonder why...)
Cover with enough water so that you have about 2 inches of water above the beans. If you have a good cast-iron enamel pan (Le Creuset) I suggest using that. Heck, you saved so much on the beans, go out and buy one of these - treat yourself fer real.
Boil, then simmer, with lid on (to preserve moisture) for about 1-2 hours. You can test the beans (by eating) to see if they are soft or palette-able. Check occasionally to make sure they don't dry up, if the water gets low, you can add more - preferably hot water. Even when they are done cooking, you should be able to see some of the water over the beans, but they should not be swimming.
When beans are soft, you can take them off the heat and using a potato masher, and making sure there is some residual hot "bean-water" you should mash them all up. You can always add more hot water if you want. I keep mashing until they are smooth, and about the consistency of runny mashed potatoes. (You will want them a tiny bit thin as they continue to "firm-up" after mashing, and especially while cooking a bit.)
One you get the hang of this, it is soooo easy. Simple as beans, really.
So here's the magic.....
Although I am usually all about natural forms of food (the less processing, the better) try adding some dried onion powder and garlic powder to taste. You can really go heavy on the onion powder. It really gives you that delicious onion-y flavor with none of the watery interruption of the smooth bean texture. I totally swear by this. Next, you want to add some natural French sea salt. This stuff is da-BOMB! This will make a difference in all your cooking, and I can just about guarantee that you will notice the difference the first time you use it. I went from table salt, to Kosher, to this French stuff, and I just about gag when I taste table salt now. (It even makes your homemade French fries - you know those you make every Friday - taste like a delectable gourmet treat.)
You can also dump in a can (yeah, a can, OK) of green chilis for a little added flavor, and some fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice for brightness. But trust me, taste the beans first, you are gonna DIE they are so good.
So, there you have it. Simple, but I swear you are going to want to make this every weekend to go with your Negra Modelo, handmade guacamole (with the same onion/salt/garlic addition) some grilled veggies, Pico de Giyo, and slices of limes coming out of your ears.