Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Beans are great! They offer great fibre, protein, carbohydrates and texture to your meals. I've been an avid fan of beans since my early childhood. Every Monday we would have some type of bean or pea soup on the menu. It's a West Indian practice that I grew up with and one that I still enjoy today.
Working with beans over the years, I've found that there's a lot of things you can do with them from creating savory bean dishes and main courses to sweet bean desserts. I'm of course a major fan of the savory bean main courses and had to learn ways to cut down my cooking times for my dishes. I don't always use the shortcuts, but in a pinch... I'll do it!
If I'm starting with dry beans that I need to have on the table within a few hours then I'll do what is called the quick soak method, but I'm liable to use any one of three methods.
METHOD 1 [I use this one the most]
-Wash and drain your beans/peas and place in your stock pot filling with water 3 - 4 inches above the level of your beans. [You need to do this to give your beans room to expand and release their indigestible sugars.]
-Bring water to a rapid boil and boil your beans for two minutes, cover, turn off heat and let stand for one hour, drain, rinse and fill with more water or broth/stock, bring to a boil for 2 - 3 minutes cover and reduce heat to a simmer until tender not mushy. Take off heat, cool in an ice bath, divide into entree sized portions and refrigerate until you're ready to use.
METHOD 2 [I rarely ever use this, don't care for it as much, but it's still an option]
-In a pressure cooker place your washed and drained beans. Add your water and cook from 15 - 25 minutes. Your pressure cooker might have a preferred time suggested. Follow that or if you have experience that tells you different, go with that. When it's finished cooking your beans/peas will be soft and ready to go. Take off heat, cool in an ice bath, divide into entree sized portions and refrigerate until you're ready to use.
-Rinse and soak your beans overnight and pour off the soak water. Cover your beans with 2-3 inches of water, bring to a boil for 2 - 3 minutes cover and reduce to a simmer until tender, but not mushy. Take off heat, cool in an *ice bath, divide into entree sized portions and refrigerate until you're ready to use.
We like to use stackable square or rectangular glass containers to keep our pre-prepped beans in. They allow us to be able to grab one container at a time when cooking. We don't salt or season them, which keeps our options open and flexible for when we decide what we'll do with them.
Although this isn't your conventional recipe where you will end up coming away with a dish, I think it's something a lot more valuable and farther reaching. It's a foundational key to building a healthy and convenient process for your everyday menu options. After you get this practice under your belt, you'll be able to take these cooked beans, convert them into extremely flavorful meals, in 5 - 10 minutes, impress your family, friends and associates and save a boat load of money. You can pre-prep a months' worth of food in a day.
[Note: *To make an ice bath, simply add enough ice to a tub, sink or other large enough container to submerge your pot in, add enough water for ice to move around in and submerge you pot of beans in and stir to make sure temperature in in your beans are rapidly decreased. This saves the nutritional value of your food along with refrigerator shelf life.]
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing this technique with you. Until next time...