NFMW Day Five: Market Chili Beans

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One by one, I’m finding the time to write up these last few National Farmer’s Market Week posts. I know you guys were on the edge of your seat! This is what I ended up eating for lunch Monday through Friday of NFMW 2010.

I tend towards making large batches of [insert food here] on the weekend and then eating it for lunch during the week. Usually my lunches are only for myself, i.e. I’m not cooking for B. (His high-powered job comes with equally high-powered lunch meetings during the week… or maybe he just tells me that so that I won’t force my chick food on him.) Since it’s just me to cook for, I like to make dishes that are heavy on whole grains or beans, and less heavy on pork, beef, or chicken. Rice and beans is a frequent player in my lunch repetoire. It’s absolutely cheap as all get out, and as long as you like beans (some people don’t… they are weird) then it’s darn tasty to boot. I’ve already written about Homesick Texan’s Magical Beans (also known as Frijoles a la Charra), and I wanted to go in the same direction – bacon, tomatoes, spicy chipotle en adobo. But tomatoes weren’t quite in season here so I had to go with some tomato paste I had in my pantry.

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(Side note: I’m really hoping to make homemade tomato paste this year… like this. Here’s hoping I don’t screw it up!)

The beans were “red chili” beans that I got from the Denver Urban Homesteading farmers market waaaaay back in February for $4.00. (I used “red chili” beans but really, any dried bean would do.) The only things I used from the store for this meal were sour cream and salt pork; the rest of the things I had in my freezer and/or pantry. Chipotle en adobo are small peppers in a smoky sauce; you can find them in the international foods aisle in your grocery store. Recipes usually only call for 1 or 2 chiles en adobo; what I end up doing is buying a large can (about $3 or $4) and buzzing the contents in my food processor until the chiles are minced. Then I put the chipotle en adobo “sauce” in a mason jar and I keep it in the fridge. The adobo keeps for weeks on end in the fridge, and you don’t end up throwing away $3.50 of peppers every time a recipe calls for them. Adobo chiles make a great addition to any dish where you want to up the flavors with a spicy/smoky component.

Even though I cook a TON, most of it is still from recipes. It’s only once in a while that I cook an entire dish from just my head, and I’m always surprised when my recipe-less adventures turn into something actually yummy. I have to say, I think these beans are pretty kick ass. They’re not spicy up front, the heat sort of creeps up on you after the first bite. They’re smoky and just slightly sweet, but they’re not heavy, which is the result of that tablespoon of red wine vinegar at the end. The sour cream is essential (at least for me); I like the cool sour cream juxtaposed against the subtle spiciness of the beans. Oh, and of course, there’s bacon in this dish. Because bacon makes everything better.

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Market Chili Beans

Original Recipe
Serves 6

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Gather:
1 pound dried beans
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 package salted pork
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pieces bacon, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon chipotle en adobo paste
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch cinnamon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
rice, for serving
sour cream, for serving
cilantro, for serving

Prepare:
Pick through beans for any stray pebbles. Combine beans, 1/2 onion, bay leaf, and salt pork in large stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook at a simmer for 4 hours, or until no longer grainy, but not mushy. Remove onions, salt pork, and bay leaf; discard. Drain beans over a large bowl, reserving bean cooking liquid for later use.

Combine olive oil, bacon, diced onion, jalapeno, and garlic clove in bottom of large stockpot (I used the same one in which I cooked the beans.) Saute over medium heat until the bacon is crispy and the onions are translucent. Add beans to stockpot, along with tomato paste, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon. Add bean cooking liquid to stockpot, to the consistency that you like. Simmer (adding water as necessary) until the beans are the consistency and as al-dente as you like. Add red wine vinegar to pot before serving.

Serve over rice with sour cream and cilantro.

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Gold Motel / Safe in LA

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4 thoughts on “NFMW Day Five: Market Chili Beans

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