Saturday, December 18, 2010

BEANS - TO SOAK OR NOT TO SOAK - THAT IS THE QUESTION

Alice and Geoff have made a big deal about a chili recipe I made a few weeks ago from the NYTimes so I decided to whip up a huge pot of it for our Christmas open house.   My concept was to start the beans soaking Thursday, make the chili Friday, let it sit in fridge overnight and serve on Saturday (Chili is WAY better after it sits in the fridge for a day).  But late on Friday Geoff said I should make two pots full.   This meant no way could I soak the beans.  I whipped out my Rick Bayless Mexican Kitchen cookbook and reread:

After having cooked almost 12,000 pounds of beans a year for most of  nearly ten years... I was taught to soak beans and I no longer do..... Soaking does practically nothing but reduce cooking time.  Soaking doesn't really make the beans much more digestible, which is what we were all told...What makes beans more digestible is a steady diet of beans, the diet nutritionists tell us we should have anyway.... If the beans are covered during cooking, they come out creamier (though more likely to stick on the bottom): when uncovered, they're more separate and nicely intact (especially if you use lots of water).  The more beans you cook at once, the more evenly cooked and better textured they'll be.  

Thanks Rick!  So it's 8:30 Saturday morning and the cooked beans sat in their pots in the fridge all night.  They have a lovely consistency this morning.  I did run out of steam yesterday, so I'm finishing the chili this morning and putting it back in the fridge to sit until tonight.   I'll let you know how it comes out.

Note:  They don't sell canned beans in my part of Morelia, if anywhere in Mexico.  Plus it would feel kind of heretical to use them here.

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