Sunday, January 6, 2013

With or without a Clay Bean Pot

I have recently been reminded how much I love beans… not the steamed green kind, or soupy sweet baked variety – but a good ol’ wholesome, creamy, garlicky, cumin-y pot of Mexican beans.  Whenever I make them I think of friends @Betsy McNair and @Sonia Banuelos de Sigenza, who I’m quite certain are the queens of beans – theirs simmering in a traditional clay bean pot.

I ordered some with breakfast in Williams, AZ at the Pine Country restaurant a few days ago.  Seemed the right accompaniment with scrambled chorizo and eggs – they came with a hot, flour tortilla and an ounce of fresh salsa – had forgotten how good that they could be!

First breakfast in my new neighborhood was a trip to the Omelet and Waffle Shop with my uncle, Norm.  He feasted on fab waffles and griddled spicy Italian sausage, while I had my “usual” – corned beef hash (by which most breakfast place benchmarks are set – and an homage to friend @Rob Gale), scrambled eggs with cheddar and a side of beans… since I could.  Soooo tasty!

Laying in supplies for the coming week left me meal planning as I shopped. I wanted to cook things that were healthy, easily reheated and comforting.  A roasted chicken was a must – and why not add a pot o’ beans to the mix?!  Pink Pintos, boiled and soaked for an hour or so to tenderize, then drained; sautéed a bit of onion, garlic & carrot, added the beans back in along with more water to cook fully.  Halfway through I added some cumin and a bit of sea salt and pepper. (waiting until the beans are mostly cooked before adding the salt ensures that they won’t harden or end up tough).  I let them simmer for a while longer until creamy.  This is a vegetarian version – but adding some kind of pork would up the flavor quotient…

This morning’s breakfast featured the beans, sans eggs (but with chicken!), topped with queso fresco, fresh salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro.  PERFECTION! 

Stopped at two bowls, but it wasn't easy.  These beans will reappear during the week in a tortilla with cheddar for lunch, as a side dish with dinner or even a midday snack as I learn a new skill and need some brain food to keep going.  Flexible, cheap and easy.

So, whether you’re in southern California; Puebla, MX; Santa Cruz in the Bay area or New England, make a pot of beans. Ideal for a wet, cold, snowy day – even without the clay pot!

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