Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tepary bean stew

I'm plotting. And this is as good a base as any.
tepary beans base

But first, a brief profile of our subject: tepary beans. Tepary beans are native to the Southwest, able to survive in the desert climate because they're more drought-resistant than typical beans. Some believe the name "tepary" comes from the Tohono O'odham phrase "t'pawi," which means "it's a bean."

Bowls of beans at the Public Market
Maricopa Agricultural Center, tepary beans

I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive about trying to cook these beans, as I am with any dry beans. The first time I cooked dry beans was a crunchy, near-tooth-chipping disaster. I've learned a lot since then, thankfully--soak them long and cook them slow, starting with cold water, under steady heat. All for the sake of evenly and completely cooked beans. All of these factors make dried beans, and therefore, tepary beans, ideal for some crockpot cookin'. Still, I'd fallen into the habit of using canned black and red beans to make my usual chili ...

When we last saw the beans, I'd just sorted, rinsed, and left them to soak in a bowl of water. I wanted to soak them long enough to rehydrate them a bit and get them ready for cooking, but not so long that they lose flavor. Thus, an overnight soak was ideal. I dunked them just before bedtime.
tepary beans soaking

The next morning, in a whirlwind, I salted and softened up some big chunks of onion and garlic, threw them in a pot along with some tumeric, cumin, paprika, cayenne, a bay leaf, mustard seeds, more salt, and freshly ground pepper, and browned some country pork ribs. Into the pot with those, and lastly, a final quick rinse for the beans, then into the pot and under an inch of water. Then I set the crock on high, and went about my day. I have to admit, whenever I crock while I'm at work, I suffer some minor anxiety attacks, worrying that something will explode or burn or bubble over--something totally imaginably horrible.
tepary beans pork

When I got home, as soon as I stepped onto my patio, I could smell the spices in much the same order in which I added them to the pot. By the time I got to my door and stuck the key in, I could smell the pork. And as I stepped inside to my little condo, it all came together. I could just smell the beans, simmering away. I saw with relief that nothing had exploded or even bubbled over--in fact, everything looked quite happy and harmonious it the little pot. I took out a forkful of beans, and they smelled wonderful. I took a taste ... oh my. First, I had to tend to my dog, check the mail, work out, and shower. Dinner would have to wait.
tepary beans

Finally. Never one to give up the sauce, I wanted something to soak it up--I try to always have something like whole wheat couscous on hand. How else can it be handy? I figured the meal would be filling enough without rice, and couscous is quick and wonderfully absorbent.
couscous for tepary beans

Dished up--hearty, healthy, happy! The pork was so moist and tender, I barely had to chew it. The couscous didn't take anything away and was only a wonderful buffer for the spiced broth--the perfect thing to warm my tummy. And the beans? They melted in my mouth--not mush or slimy, but the perfect vehicle to carry the flavors of the spice. They tasted like red beans, but so much more subtle, and I didn't get tired of their taste as quickly as I do with other beans. I'm glad I found this before winter--it will become a nice addition to my repertoire of warming comfort foods.
tepary beans

6 comments:

Shan Chief said...

hi julie, love the site, but for me here in thailand it takes forever to load for some reason. by-the-way that's the worst pad thai i've ever seen! keep up the good work.

Julie said...

Thanks, Shan! I don't know why it takes so long to load for you. I know sometimes blogger.com where I keep my blog is slow, and sometimes flickr.com where I house my photos is slow. The photo images average only 175 kb, and while there are a lot of them, they shouldn't take that long. I dont' know what to tell you. My friends in the Philippines never mention any trouble, so I don't think it's the fact that you're overseas.

Thank goodness I didn't make that pad thai! I think it's just hard to make leftover pad thai stuffed into and reheated in a paper box look very appetizing. That's sort of the point when I eat at my desk, though--quick and ugly!

Julius said...

Hey Julie ~

Cool avatar!

=)

Julius

Julie said...

Julius, thanks! I used to have that hair, and I have some of those tattoos (in those places), but I'm still working on that slim figure. I'm getting there!

Manang said...

Hi Julie,
Thanks for dropping by my blog. I hope you will like the bibingka recipes (and you might actually come up with a better version, let me know!)
I was drooling looking at these photos (and it is just this one page!). I bookmarked this, although I haven't added your site as a link to mine, but will do so as soon as time allows me!
We are gonna have our home-raised pig slaughtered this Saturday, and this bean recipe of yours is #1 on my list for winter comfort foods to try!(I gotta get a smaller crock!)

Julie said...

Manang, thank you! How funny to call you manang--for all I know, you actually are my manang! You are in spirit, anyway. I hope you post about your lechon! I only had it a few times growing up, but it was always a treat. I'll watch your blog for it!