Flash in the Pan: Three Chile Beans

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These beans qualify as a Flash in the Pan if you only count active time--the soaking of the beans and the cooking of the dish take much longer. But sometimes you just want something comforting and slow-cooked, and the actual work involved here is next to nothing.

I used scarlet runner beans, but you could use giant white beans, or kidney beans--any largish, meaty bean. I often use canned beans (quelle horreur), but I wouldn't for this dish. I like the way dried, soaked beans keep their shape and texture when slow-cooked for a long period of time.

I served the beans with a fried egg, as you can see above, which worked nicely because the creamy yolk toned down the heat. You could also just sprinkle queso fresco over the beans, or eat them taco-style, with a corn tortilla.

The recipe, after the jump. 

Three Chile Beans
Yield: About 8 servings

Find guajillo and ancho chiles at any well-stocked bodega. They're also available at Kalustyan's. I used turkey bacon--I rarely do, but was craving something relatively healthy. Real bacon would work even better. If you want a milder dish, decrease the chiles to 2 each kind, and half the chipotles from the can.

1 pound scarlet runner beans, or large beans of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 cloves garlic, smashed
salt and pepper
7 strips bacon, or turkey bacon, chopped fine
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seed
3 ancho chiles, stemmed and chopped fine
3 guajillo chiles, stemmed and chopped fine
1 (7-ounce) can chipotles in adobo, chiles chopped fine
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups chicken stock or water

Eight hours before you plan on making the dish, rinse off the beans, and then place them in a bowl. Cover with cold water, and let beans soak 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees. In a large, ovenproof pot, such as a dutch oven, over medium heat, warm the oil. Sauté the smashed garlic cloves until softened and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bacon and the cumin seeds, and sauté, stirring, until the bacon has rendered some of its fat, and the cumin seeds are fragrant. Add the chiles, the chipotles with the adobo sauce, the thyme and the bay leaves. Cook, stirring, 1 or 2 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans, and add the stock or water and the beans to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, and place in the oven. Cook the beans for about 12 hours. This is best done overnight.

When the beans are done, discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. If the beans are too soupy for your taste, bring mixture to a simmer, and reduce until desired consistency is reached. If they are too dry for your taste, add additional water or stock until desired consistency is reached. Serve.  


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