I did not like beans as a kid and would only eat them if it was in a can of Hormel Chili or on the rare occasion that my mother made her own. Part of the issue was that beans came in a can and were usually a salty, mushy, yucky mess. Kidney beans, Lima beans and Garbanzos were the only kind of beans that existed for me and to this day I usually avoid the Kidney beans on principle and Lima beans I don’t even want to talk about.
As an adult, I found an appreciation for pinto beans found in burritos purchased somewhere in the Mission District of San Francisco. A side of refried beans served with whatever Mexican main dish I might order helped widen the scope of my bean experience. Pork fat does wonders for a bland bean.
Later on, I married into a Hispanic family and discovered what home cooked beans could taste like. The difference is amazing, like all food that comes from people born and raised with their own cultural tastes. Beans without bacon or other pork products were not on the menu.
Today’s selection are Peruano beans. They are a light buff or yellow pole bean usually from Mexico although they were originally cultivated in Peru. Peruano beans may be called Azufrado, Canary, Mayocoba or Mexican yellow beans. They have a creamy texture when cooked and can be used in any recipe calling for Pinto beans.
As usual, cooking for one, I start with but 3/4 cup of beans but Peruanos swell quite a bit and that small amount will make a small sauce pan more than half full. First it is always a good idea to check your beans for any small rocks or other foreign matter. These are usually cleaner than pintos but I have found the occasional small rock or clod of dirt. Pick out any broken or split beans and discard. Wash your beans well, I usually give them a few rinses in the pot until the water is clean.
Many people swear by an overnight soak or at least an hour hot soak before cooking but I do not find any advantage. They will cook faster with an overnight soak, but in my opinion the flavor is compromised at least a bit. Another reason for me is that I do not decide to cook beans yesterday in most cases.
Some recipes that use tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a meat such as bacon or chorizo call for cooking the beans in plain salted water and then draining them before finishing with the other ingredients. Also not my style. Today, I am using the last of my chicken, ham hock stock and a bit of water. I also like bacon, onions, garlic, and spices to cook with the beans. I feel the depth of flavor is better.
Once the beans are washed and on the stove, I add half of a small sweet onion finely chopped, one garlic clove, 1/4 lb of chopped sliced bacon (about 3 strips) you don’t really need this much bacon but it tastes so good. Then, a good pinch of smoked Spanish Hot Paprika, a pinch of salt (more can be added later), a pinch of ground cumin, and a dried Japonaise chile. You can also use a dried Chile Arbol, a fresh Serrano or Jalapeno. If you don’t like the heat then leave the chile out.
Simmer covered for at least 2 hours adding water when it gets close to the top of the beans. If you try to cook these beans with less water, they will not cook evenly. Depending on the age of the beans, they can cook in an hour or take 3 hours. Keep an eye on them and taste for doneness. When 5 beans in a spoon all taste done, the whole pot should be good. Usually for my taste, when some of the beans are just starting to split, the pot is ready.
You can eat them as is or if making smashed beans, let the beans cool awhile in their liquid and drain most of it before using a potato ricer to smash in the pot. I add back liquid as needed to get the texture I am looking for. If you like very smooth beans then use a blender, food processor or stick blender to get the texture you are after. The bean juice with all it’s flavor is saved for other uses. It is tasty and I rarely throw away flavor.
For dinner, I will make some rice, cook a piece of sausage, and eat rice and beans. I bring you yet another episode of Ugly Food. It is delicious, it is nutritious, but boy is it Ugly.
In an interesting aside, I read this article about substituting beans for beef and it’s affect on climate change. It is worth a look.
Peruano Beans with Bacon My Way
- 3/4 cup dried Peruano Beans
- 3 Slices chopped Smoked Bacon
- Water or Stock to cover beans
- 1/2 small diced Onion (I like to use sweet onions but white or brown are fine)
- 1 dried Japonaise Chile Pepper (Dried Chile Arbol, fresh Serrano or Jalapeno)
- Pinch Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika (I like La Dalia Pimenton De La Vera or Antonio Sotos)
- Pinch Ground Cumin
- Heavy Pinch Sea Salt
- Clean and rinse beans well
- Add water or stock to cover at least 1/2 inch
- Add Onion, Bacon, and Spices
- Bring to boil and reduce to simmer
- Cover pot and cook 2-3 hours until beans are tender and just starting to split
- Eat as is or use potato ricer for smashed beans, food processor, or stick blender to make a puree. If doing this, remove most of the liquid first and add back as necessary to get the texture that pleases you
- Yields 2 cups or 4 servings
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Once your add the Bacon it looks like this, not too bad actually
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Until I buy a plug in, I’m not doing this Nutrition thing again. But it does show that adding a bunch of bacon does not put the beans over the top nutrition wise. All just a part of a healthy diet. Phew!