The Accidental Beans

Out of the blue, possibly deriving from a desire to lose weight, I developed a fondness for Hummus.  You know, that funny looking, mostly bland paste that my people like.  I started buying it from the store and then topping it with a mixture of good olive oil and harisa for a delightful kick.  Overtime I started experimenting on how to take hummus from nice to magnificent.  Why set the bar too low?

One of the things that I like is making my own garbanzos.  Don’t get me wrong, making them from canned beans is fine, but there is something special in making them from scratch.  Alton Brown has a fantastic recipe that calls for making them in a crockpot that is so easy it is criminal.  I probably make them ever 2-3 weeks, as a pound of beans makes 2 batches of hummus.

And of course I use Rancho Gordo beans.  Always.  Lately I’ve been adding things to the water to flavor the beans and use the reserve water in the hummus process.  So this day I set about thinking what I wanted to do. 7 cups of water? Half an onion? Check.  4 black cardamom pods? Check.  1/3 head of cilantro? Check.  6 cloves of garlic? Check.  1 Anaheim chili? Check. 1 pound of dried chickpeas?  NOPE.

What?  What?  The dreaded no chickpeas crisis!.  I didn’t realize I used my last bag.  Drat.

What to do? WHAT TO DO?

Well, I guess I was going to have to make beans instead.  I’ve never used the crock pot for beans, but here goes nothing.  The mother of invention and stuff and things.  Stuff. And. Things.  I went to the pantry where there were no chickpeas, but plenty of beans.  No, I never dreamed I’d have beans made and in the fridge 20 odd days a month.  I grabbed a bag of Rancho Gordo Bayo Chocolate brown beans.  I have always like these.(These are not currently available, but the Rebosero beans are most similar of what is available.)  Beans aren’t named Steve or Bob and my Spanish is highly restricted and mostly influenced by Mexican Restaurants and Santana songs.

So I thought to myself, “this will work”.  I added the beans and another cup of water and set the crock pot on low.  I wasn’t done, but I didn’t know what to do next.  No matter I had time.  Lots of time.  I checked them every few hours and stirred them.  I added water a few times to make sure they were well hydrated.  A hydrated bean is a happy bean.  Since there was no presoak, I knew I was going to need 8-10 hours.  And no salt till the end.

I added a heaping tablespoon of harissa at about 4 hours.  I added some fresh oregano from the garden at about 6 hours.  At 8 hours I added 1 medium can of diced (undrained) tomatoes.  Beans and tomatoes go well together.  And let’s be honest, if this is going to be a meal, it requires sausage too.  One pound of ground sausage was browned, de fatted, and then put into the crock pot. Yum.   I cooked them another hour to let the flavors meld.

The onion and chili was fished out.

Salt and pepper to taste.  Served over rice, as is the custom in my house, so far from New Orleans.  Brown beans and rice it was.  Topped with a bit fresh cilantro and biscuits.  Tres good.

And thus was born the pot of accidental beans.  Feel free to try at home.

And in case you missed it, the moral of our story is to always have lots of Rancho Gordo Bean in the pantry.  Seriously good eats.





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