Friday, February 25, 2011

Bittman's Beer Glazed Black Beans with Chiles

Beer Glazed Black Beans with Chile
As much as I always make pains when linking to Mark Bittman's recipes to say things like "I'm not much of a minimalist, but..." I have to admit the guy has some really fantastic recipes. However, despite how good they are, in the past I've seldom had much interest in making them, since he focuses so much on simplicity... whereas I like cooking "projects"... things that take at least an afternoon (preferably days) to come together and likely need trips to specialty shops or ethnic markets to assemble all the ingredients.

Since this past weekend in Maine, however, I've come to realize that much more than a three day cassoulet, the thing I need to work on in cooking the most is: bringing a main dish and a couple of complimentary sides to the dinner table on time and hot. I need to improve my multitasking and planning, and I need to start thinking about the whole plate, instead of just focusing on what's going to be sitting in the center. Too often I find myself just making rice...  or egg noodles...  or a simple green salad...  or, hell, absolutely nothing...  to go with whatever I spent all day making. Room for improvement there, certainly.

So to that end, I've decided I'm going to start making more Bittman sides to ease myself into multi-tasking cooking... trying to take advantage of the simplicity and flexibility of his recipes. This one is a variation of his Beer-Glazed Black Beans from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

You could obviously use fresh chiles, but since I have a bit of a dried pepper obsession, that is my preference. I like chipotle or ancho as the powder, and thai, cayenne, or pequin as the re-hydrated addition.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup beer
  • 3 cups cooked/canned black beans, drained but moist
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, preferably one made with a single type of chile
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1-2 dried chiles, soaked in boiling water, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Put the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft - 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a 1 minute. Add beer, beans, chili powder, honey, sliced re-hydrated chiles, and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Bring to a steady simmer and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve.