"DriedBeans" news and stories
Last week, I decided to make a batch of turkey chili. My younger sister and a friend of hers were staying with us and I figured chili was a easy way to cover at least one dinner and lunch the next day. I put a pound of beans in to soak overnight and then the next morning, popped them into a slow cooker. At lunchtime, I ran home to get the rest of the chili ready, browning ground turkey with some chopped onions and breaking up a can of whole peeled tomatoes.
I poured the meat and veggies into a different slow cooker and added the partially cooked beans and their cooking liquid, figuring that they would soften the rest of the way over the course of the afternoon (experienced dried been cookers may have already spotted my mistake). Except that when I got home later that night, the beans were still crunchy. We waited an hour more, and but they never got soft. We ended up picking every bean out of the chili by hand and then adding in a couple of cans of beans, in order to create a dinner we could eat.
Later that night, as I beat myself up for ruining dinner, I flipped through the Rancho Gordo Cookbook, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong. Suddenly, I found the illuminating passage. It explained that you should never add high acid foods to beans before they are fully cooked, as the acids will arrest the cooking process and so you'll end up with crunchy, undercooked beans. Just my problem. I still felt bad about having screwed up dinner, but I also felt grateful to have figured out why my beans has been so terrible. It's one mistake I won't make again.
Filed under: Ingredients
Blind baking is a common practice in the baking world. The definition is to partially or fully bake a pie or tart crust before adding the filling. Since a pie of tart dough has a tendency to warp during cooking, it must be weighted down so that it can retain its shape.
To blind bake, simply line the pie dish or tart pan with whatever dough you're using. Preheat the oven, usually to 325 or 350. Lay a coffee filter or similar type of paper over the lined pan and fill it with some kind of material that will not burn or weigh the dough down too much. Dried beans are the preferred method in most bakeries as they are inexpensive, don't burn easily, and are heavy enough to hold the dough down without crushing it. Also, beans are able to fill all of the corners. I'm not sure how well rice would work, but it might be worth a try.
Blind baking is generally used for pies with wet fillings to give the crust a head start and avoid undercooked crust. I like to blind bake at home just to shorten the final baking time. If the crust has a head start, it won't take the pie quite as long to bake once the filling is in it. Also if the pie is cream or chiffon filled you'd have to bake the pie shell in advance anyway as the filling shouldn't be cooked any further.
Filed under: Methods
Last weekend, I used dried pinto beans for the first time. And actually, other than a brief flirtation with cannellini beans during college and the occasional lentil soup or salad, my experience with dried beans is nil. When I was growing up, we were more of a canned bean family and so the idea of cooking with dried beans just never really crossed my mind.
However, over the last few months (or so) I've been seeing lots of people write about using dried beans. The Pioneer Woman did it (and paired them with cornbread). The Gluten-Free Girl described beans in delicious detail. And Luisa, the Wednesday Chef, did amazing things with giant white lima beans.
Filed under: On the Blogs
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