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January 6, 2008

Dried kidney beans (Recipe: pueblo vegetable stew)

Drybeans1

Beans, beans, good for your heart.
The more you eat, the more you...
Oops.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit.
The more you eat, the more you toot.

Beans, beans, they'll give you gas.
The more you eat, the more you pass.

Beans, beans. Poor things. Beans have been the subject of some of the world's silliest rhymes.

They'll have the last laugh, though, because beans, one of the world's healthiest foods, pack a nutritional punch that's no joke.

Most dried beans are loaded with soluble fiber, which helps maintain good digestive and heart health, balanced blood sugar, and sufficient levels of iron (especially important for women). Kidney beans provide almost double the daily requirement of molybdenum, a trace mineral that actually helps counteract (detoxify) the effect of the sulfites found in food preservatives and red wine. If you've ever experienced a "sulfite headache," it could be from a shortage of molybdenum in your system.

If beans didn't taste great, though, they'd be in the medicine cabinet instead of the pantry.

Native to Peru, beans migrated to South and Central America through Indian trade routes. Spanish explorers like Columbus returned to Europe with kidney beans; then, Portuguese and Spanish traders carried the beans to Asia and Africa. To this day some of the most exciting culinary uses of beans derive from those cultures, dishes like Belizean stewed beans, Nigerian red bean stew, Mexican pork and bean chili and green tomato curry. Some fundamentally American dishes depend on kidney beans, too, including a newfangled three-bean salad and good old franks and beans.

Dried kidney beans, an economical source of protein, will keep up to a year in an airtight container. I always remove them from the plastic bags and store them in a clean jar, sometimes mixed in with other like-minded beans. Be sure to rinse before cooking, and pick out any stones or damaged beans. If you presoak, which tenderizes and helps the beans cook faster, place them in a bowl with water to cover by two inches, in the refrigerator overnight. (The cold prevents fermentation.) Cook on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a slow cooker, and when the beans are mostly cooked through, add seasonings, salt and pepper, and other ingredients.

And to prove that for every bad rhyme there's a wonderful poem, here's a favorite by Gwendolyn Brooks, from her 1960 book with the same title:

The Bean Eaters
    
They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

 Pueblo vegetable stew 

As a rule, most dried beans benefit from a soak before you cook them. However, my new slow cooker makes it easy to prepare bean dishes on days when I've forgotten, or just don't have time for, the soaking step. This recipe, adapted from James McNair’s Favorites, serves 6-8.

Ingredients

2 cups dry kidney beans, rinsed
1-1/2 tsp cumin seed
1-2 whole ancho, guajillo, pasilla or other large dried mild to medium-hot chiles, stems and seeds discarded, torn into small pieces
2 Tbsp minced fresh oregano, or 2 tsp crumbled dried oregano
1/4 cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 Tbsp minced fresh jalapeño or serrano chile
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups peeled, seeded, drained and chopped ripe or canned tomato
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-3/4 lbs butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups thawed frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup pine nuts
Fresh cilantro or parsley sprigs for garnish

Directions

Drain beans, and place in a slow cooker. Cover with water by one inch. Cook on low for 6 hours.

In a small skillet, combine cumin seed, torn dried chiles and oregano. Place over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan or stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Do not allow to burn. Pour onto a plate to cool, then transfer to a spice grinder or heavy mortar with pestle and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.

In a sauté pan or heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned, 5 minutes. Add jalapeño, garlic, cinnamon, and the ground spice mixture, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and 1/2 cup of stock or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add to the slow cooker with the beans. Add 1 cup of remaining broth, squash, and corn. Cook on low for 4 hours. Stir once each hour, and if the stew needs more liquid, add some of the remaining broth. A few minutes before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro or parsley.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until slightly brown and fragrant. To serve, ladle the stew into warmed shallow bowls, sprinkle with pine nuts, and garnish with herb sprigs.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Everything-in-the-pantry bean soup
Carmen's black bean soup
Football season chili
Frijoles de la olla

Comments

Well, is that not incredible!
My husband love that bean ditty.
We both love beans.
The is half a big butternut in the fridge!
I've been wanting a slow cooker. But the oven will work.
Thank you Lydia.
I'll just go put the beans to soak now.

Beans ROCK!!!!!!!!!!! One of my most favorite things to eat.
Check out Ranch Gordo for heirloom beans (and dried chiles): www.ranchogordo.com They also have nice recipes.

LOL! Too funny that rhyme. ;-)

Just had some kidney beans the past couple of days as I made a three bean salad. I like the sound of the recipe you've posted.

Paz

Hooray for the slow cooker! I think I like pretty much every kind of bean, they are just the perfect food.

Such a tasty post! Love beans and mostly slow cooked...Happy new year from Panama =)

I really do love beans in any shape and form. In India we eat a large variety of beans. This recipe sounds lovely - slow cooked and full of flavor!

Lovely poem (the last one, that is!)

That is one "true" song about beans. Just yesterday I bought some dried fava beans. The recipe sounds delicious.

The second stanza that I learned for "the more you toot" ditty is:

"The more you toot, the better you feel,
So let's have beans with every meal!"

We live in Colorado, so all of these ingredients are non-exotic and easy to find. I'm going to make this one!

Claire @ http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com

Hey, I don't need any convincing to eat my beans! I love em'. I like that they fill me up.
The stew sounds great. There's so many different flavors going on.

ha ha , i actually like the silly rhymes :-) I don't mind musical tooting so beans are a stable in our household.

MyKitchen, I thought I was the last person to get a slow cooker -- I agonized for months about which one to buy. If anyone had told me how great it was to make beans in a slow cooker, I'd have bought one years ago.

Sharon, thanks so much for the Rancho Gordo tip. I'll definitely check it out.

Paz, I love making bean salads now that I know more about beans. When I was young and my parents brought bean salads to potlucks, the salads were drenched in dressing and truly awful. A good three-bean salad can be elegant.

Kalyn, I like almost everything -- except chickpeas, for some reason. And I'm still learning how to use the slow cooker. Thus far, a few more misses than hits, but the hits have been great.

Melissa, happy new year to you! I agree -- slow cooked beans are delicious.

Meeta, I'm looking forward to discovering some new Indian recipes with beans in the coming year -- learning more about Indian cooking is one of my new year's resolutions.

Christine, thanks! (you mean you don't like the gas...pass poem better?!)

Warda, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. What are you going to make with the fava beans?

Claire, thanks for visiting The Perfect Pantry. Yes, I've heard the second stanza ... and it's true, all of the tooting does seem to make you feel better! I think this is a recipe born of your part of the country.

Emiline, welcome to the Pantry. I agree -- I love beans cooked almost any way. My husband isn't quite as crazy about beans, so I end up eating a lot of what I make by myself.

Nora, I think the tooting is just fine, when everyone is doing it together! Like music... and anyway, the beans are worth it for the flavor and the nutrition, don't you think?

I love the historical anecdotes you uncover. And, based on some of your recent posts, I have resolved to cook more with dried beans in 2008, instead of relying on the canned variety. A good use for my slow cooker, too!

Well, one of the few advantages to living alone is the freedom to eat beans and not worry how musical I become!

I love beans, and this recipe is right up my alley!

Looks almost like those Azuki red beans!

TW, I've resolved to eat more beans this year, too. Unfortunately Ted isn't as bean-crazy as I am, and I always like to cook "large" when I'm making beans. So if you're ever in Rhode Island, you're invited for a bean supper!

Toni, I think this recipe is inspired by the Southwest, so I hope you like it.

Tigerfish, you're right. I've only used azuki beans in sweets (and it's an acquired taste for those of us not born into Asian cuisine, I think -- or at least it is for me). Now you make me curious so I will look up recipes for azuki beans in savory dishes.

Ah, red kidney beans...how I love them! I usually cook them in a North Indian curry, or in my generic burrito filling, but this pueblo stew sounds so inviting!
Red kidney beans should definitely be soaked, rinsed thoroughly and cooked thoroughly to get rid of (or greatly reduce) the toxic phytohaemagglutinin that they contain.

There certainly are a lot poems and rhymes about beans! I used to hate beans as a child but these days I love all kinds!

Nupur, thanks for sharing your expertise about bean cookery. I'll be sure to check some of your curry recipes as I learn more about Indian cooking this year.

Hillary, same here, I never liked beans when I was younger, but I think that's because I didn't have them cooked properly. Now I love beans!

I love beans! And, so 'they' have said: if you eat more rather than less often, your body handles them better; gets used to them and produces less gas. Now, where's the fun in that?!

That poem by Gwendolyn Brooks really sticks with me...like a belly full of warm beans on a cold day.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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