Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Pot of Beans

I found the recipe for Yankee Bean Pot from the bookThe Essential EatingWell Cookbookby doing a search of my Eat Your Books Bookshelf for "slow cooker + beans" on Thursday night.  I had a bag of dried mixed beans I wanted to use up and I figured I could use those in place of the Navy or Great Northrern beans called for in the recipe. I had all of the other ingredients except for the Canadian bacon.  Friday morning I was going to the grocery store anyway, so I could pick that up.  With my plan in place, I set my beans soaking overnight.  I went to the store and decided on pancetta instead of the Canadian bacon.  I ditched the idea of the ham hock and decided to use up the end of a container of beef broth in place of the water.  Even though ham and beef are completely different, I figured the beef broth would lend a bit of a meaty flavor to the dish. Without the ham hock, I thought just adding plain water would not give me enough flavor. Except for those few changes, I pretty much followed the recipe as written.  I used a little white wine to deglaze the pan when it started to get lots of brown bits (I don't use non-stick skillets).  I got everything into the slow-cooker, set it to HIGH, set the timer and went out for an afternoon of errands and shopping.

When I got home, my apartment smelled amazing.  I cooked up a pot of brown rice to serve with the beans. It turned out to be a simple, delicious, and economical meal especially since I also have enough leftovers for several lunches.  I'm not sure if this dish was intended to be served in "beans & rice" style, but it definitely worked that way.  The broth the beans cooked in was fragrant, meaty, and slightly sweet.  It made a nice little sauce to top off the beans and rice.  My beans didn't get quite as tender as I expected, but they were definitely cooked and tasted wonderful. I'm wondering if this happened because the beans were so old - they were hanging out in my pantry for quite some time.  Regardless, this was a successful and yummy dish.

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