Friday, February 27, 2009

Frijoles a la Bessie

In the past I have done an entire post about my favorite piece of cookery, my French Oven which I have affectionately named Bessie after my great-grandmother. Naming things is weird I know, but hey, that's me!

I use my French Oven for so many things and I think if anyone can afford to buy one, they should because everything I have made in this thing has turned out so well ... and I am not a gourmet cook, trust me. And after being inspired by a post on my friend Heather's blog, I decided to make a big pot of pinto beans. I was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and even though I only lived there for the first three years of my life, elements of the culture runs through my blood. I find great comfort in the aroma of a pot of beans that cook for hours. I think the flavor of homemade flour tortillas are incomparable, and the green chili is magical.

I love the freckles that dried pinto beans have. They look very earthy.

While taking the basic recipe from The Feast of Santa Fe, I created my own way of making pinto beans that cook for about 5 to 6 hours and end up creamy and full of flavor.

Frijoles a la Bessie (or Pinto Beans)

2 cups dried pinto beans
water to cover
1 small onion, chopped
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt

To precook beans (or you can soak them overnight if you have the forethought to do so), bring two quarts of water to a boil, drop in sorted and rinsed beans and bring back to a boil, uncovered. Boil for exactly 2 minutes, remove pot from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Cut up bacon into small pieces and cook in frying pan to render the fat. Chop onion and add to bacon; cook together until onions are translucent. When ready to cook beans, drain and rinse beans in a colander and return to oven proof pot (French/Dutch Oven is perfect). Add all ingredients except for the salt, and include the bacon and onions, plus enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Use a bit of water to deglaze frying pan and add bacon drippings and brown bits to beans.

This is what you should have before adding the water to begin cooking the beans. When it does start to cook, the aroma is amazing!

Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally. When beans are cooked but still starchy to the bite, place entire pot into a conventional oven at 350° for 30 minutes. Then add 1 tsp salt, stir well and put back into oven for another 30 minutes. Beans should be soft and the "liquor" or sauce should be thick and opaque.

Of course this recipe can be made vegetarian by cooking the onions in olive oil. Additional salt may need to be added to taste.

Served with a piece of corn bread or homemade flour tortillas and it makes a very filling meal. I have yet to master the art of making tortillas. They taste great, but they never end up round when I make them. I'd say they are more amoeba shaped, but if cooked right ... who cares!

Beans are very economical and abundant, which is a good thing in this economy. Leftovers can be mashed and refried for burritos, and even the pickiest eaters (i.e. my kids!) like them.

6 comments: said...

I make homemade tortillas often, and mine do not turn out round. I haven't figured it out yet. But I keep trying!

Kelly said...

Mmmm, I'd be curious to see your recipe and technique! It is all surprisingly very labor intensive and I think getting round tortillas is something that is going to take a lot of practice.

Journeying Five said...

looks very yummy i just think i would botch the beans and tortillas...i make homemade pitas, that is amazing!

Anna said...

Gasp! I'm a namer too! (Are we secretly related? Was there something in that Bible study tea 15+ years ago??)

And...I've been on the hunt at our local Marshalls/TJ Maxx for one of these cookers. I'm after the lemongrass. (Her name will be Florence.) Have you seen the recipe for artisan bread that you bake right in it?

Kelly said...

Journeying Five - I have never made pitas before, you should post the recipe, I would love to try it!

Anna - Florence! I love that, is that a name of a relative or just a fun name you have picked out? You will not regret buying a French oven, I have had mine for almost a year and it is one of the best purchases I have made. I have the recipe for the bread but haven't tried it yet. I heard that the handles on the pot lids don't do well in an oven over 400 degrees and should be removed. Here is a copy of the recipe if you don't already have it:

heather said...

Yum! This sounds so wonderful!