Friday, September 21, 2007

The Way We Lunch Now

Some time ago, somebody pointed me in the direction of an online article or forum that championed the practice of cooking dried beans without any presoaking. I didn't actually read the article or forum: I just stored the description of the method in the back of my brain somewhere and figured it might come in handy one day.

A couple of weeks ago, V. had just left for a two-week trip, and I was pushing a cart through the supermarket, and when I got to the dried beans section, I saw a bag of dried hominy. And I thought, "Well, why not?" as I picked up the hominy and a bag of black beans to go with it. Often there's no very good answer to "well, why not," but in this case, the answer would have been, "Because you'll be eating that for weeks." Still, two weeks later, I haven't gotten tired of the combination of hominy and black beans. It does take up a lot of room in the refrigerator, though, so I'm not likely to make it again until V. goes out of town again. Alas. I suppose you could cut the quantity by half or more, but if I did that, then I'd have half a bag of dried hominy sitting around, and V. would hate that at least as much as he hates having a big container in the frig. As it happens, just before he got back from his trip, I took the big container out of the frig, repackaged most of the beans and hominy into individual serving containers and discarded the rest. There was some waste, to be sure, but I still got about fifteen lunches out of the concoction, and, well, it was dirt cheap to make. Even after you add in the salsa and shredded cheese that I serve with the beans and hominy, you're looking at something less than fifty cents a serving.

It takes about 2.5 hours for the beans to cook to the point of tenderness but not mushiness. The hominy was done at the same time, fortunately. The beans are done when they have just started to release their starch, so that the cooking liquid resembles gravy. There is a certain industrial sludge look to the beans and hominy, but the addition of salsa and cheese makes them considerably more attractive, but they are still not going to win any beauty contests. You could, of course, shop up vegetables and add them during the cooking, but using the salsa is easier, and I like it better that way.

I use my big, cast iron dutch oven for this dish, but anything that goes from the stovetop to the oven (and is really big) will work.

Black Beans and Hominy

1/4 pound bacon
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. celery seed
2 t. smoked paprika
1 T. ground cumin
1 pound dried black beans
1 pound dried hominy
2 t. salt, plus additional to taste
14 cups water

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Cut the bacon into pieces about an inch long. Put them in the bottom of a large, heavy pan over medium heat and cook until the fat is rendered and the pieces are crisp. Add the onion, stir, cover, and cook for about five minutes. Add the garlic and spices, stir, and cook for another two minutes.

Add the beans, hominy, salt, and water. Stir well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pot and move to the oven. Cook until the beans are tender, about 2.5 hours.

Serve with whatever strikes your fancy.


Anonymous lindy said...

I am definitely making this. As soon as I use up the giant container of dutch split pea soup in my fridge.
I do love hominy. And black beans.

9:21 AM  

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