More beans please

Posted on January 25, 2006 by Aun

I think everyone has moments when all they really want to eat is something familiar and comforting. One food that seems to do the trick every time is beans. Of course, there are so many different ways to whip up a big, hearty helping of beans and so many different kinds of beans that one could use that you might find fault with my choice, arguing that I need to be much more specific. But I think the beauty of beans, be they flageolet, haricot, kidney, fava, pinto or lima, is that everyone has a favorite way of cooking or eating them. My darling wife S, for example, is a huge slow-baked beans addict. My own favorite recipe comes from one of my first cookbooks, the small and easy-to-use Real Fast Food by British food god Nigel Slater.

I discovered this amazing little paperback at Shakespeare and Company in Paris during the summer of 1994. I spent 10 weeks that summer “staging” at the International Herald Tribune. In Paris, I had subletted a tiny studio from a friend, a fellow-student who was spending the summer partying across Eastern Europe. The studio was little more than a tiny room with a bed, a shower and a kitchen. The kitchen, I should note, took up at least 30% of the whole apartment. So, as you can imagine, I spent a lot of time there. Real Fast Food was only the second cookbook I had ever bought for myself (the first was Molly Katzen’s awesome Moosewood Cookbook) and it became my best friend during that summer. I loved the fact that the book offered “350 recipes ready-to-eat in 30 minutes”. And since I lived just a short walk from a fantastic farmer’s market, I had no excuse not to work my way through the book.

I still have my beat-up copy of this book, a Penguin edition printed in 1993. The corner of at least a dozen pages are folded over–my way, back then, of marking the pages that contained my favorite recipes. My favorite beans recipe is on Page 209, White Beans with Tarragon and Cream. It’s a lovely, herby creamy dish that works wonderfully on its own, with toast or with any number of meats. This is, of course, one of the great things about the best beans recipes–that they taste great with a vast variety of things.

Recently, because S knows that I have a preference for white beans, she decided to come up with a recipe to serve alongside some beautifully fresh lamb racks that we had bought at the Swiss Butchery. It was tasty and earthy, spiked with carrots, onions and celery, and braised with chicken stock that’s been flavored through the addition of a nice, meaty ham bone.

It was even better the next day. For breakfast, I couldn’t resist heating up some more of the braised beans. Having spent the night in the fridge, the bean’s flavors had become more balanced and more nuanced. I sliced up and pan-fried some bratwurst and topped everything with a poached egg. It was a wonderful, hearty breakfast, made especially so served with a glass of iced coffee.

S’s simple braised white beans
Begin with 225g dried flageolet beans, picked over and rinsed. Cover the beans with 500ml water. Soak them for 8-12 hours, then drain. Put the beans in a large sauce pan with another 500ml water. Add 3 cloves of garlic, bruised; and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface; reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or until cooked. Store the beans in the remaining cooking liquid if you don’t intend to use them immediately.

1 carrot, peeled & diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, peeled & diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
enough chicken stock to cover the beans and vegetables

Drain the beans and add to the stock. Next, add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or until most of the liquid has been reduced. Adjust seasoning (salt and pepper) to taste. If you can, cool and refrigerate overnight. Reheat before serving.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Elsie January 26, 2006 at 8:49 am

    Hi Chubby Hubby,
    The breakfast does look great! Can I ask how you go about making such beautiful looking poached eggs? Thanks!

  2. MM January 26, 2006 at 9:03 am

    You know, I am beginning to think there’s a group of us with a thing about eggs. I noticed that we add eggs to almost everything. That looks so good that even though I am not bean keen, I might just try it.

  3. Anonymous January 26, 2006 at 10:32 am

    hi, chance upon ur site.
    can i ask what camera you using?
    u took ever so classic pics of your food!

    Cannes

  4. Ivonne January 26, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Chubby Hubby,

    Thank you for sharing that recipe … it sounds comforting and delicious!

  5. Rosa's Yummy Yums January 26, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    Your breakfast looks fabulous!
    I’m also an adept of slow cooking when it comes to beans…
    What is this Swiss butchery you speak about? Do you find Swiss meat specialities in Singapore?…

  6. Anonymous January 26, 2006 at 5:59 pm

    Omigod…I have this thing about the way eggs are cooked & I must say that yr egg is Perfect! Firm but not overcooked white & the ‘just about to’ coagulate & not undercooked yolk… yum…

  7. Luisa January 26, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    I need to get my hands on a copy of Real Fast Food – I’ve heard nothing but raves from so many different people whose taste I think is on my wavelength. Braised beans, baked beans, however you make them, they’re delicious. These look lovely.

  8. zTransmissions January 27, 2006 at 12:44 am

    my god. your photos are always so fantastic. i’m not usually a big fan of english breakfast beans and such, but this looks absolutely mouthwatering. you’ve done it again! if only you weren’t already someone’s hubby, i’d probably propose. please cook for me.

  9. GastroChick January 27, 2006 at 2:00 am

    Your dish looks beautiful

    Nigel Slater is one of my favourite food writers along with Nigella Lawson. They both serve such robust, homely cooking.

    I truly recommend Mr Slater’s new book The Kitchen Diaries, I have been using it nearly everyday

  10. lakeside girl January 27, 2006 at 3:24 am

    Gosh you can make beans look and sound so romantic..

  11. eatdrinknbmerry January 27, 2006 at 4:50 am

    my favorite egg dish has to be spam, fried eggs and rice (with soy sauce). It’s a hawaiian comfort food.

  12. Vivilicious January 27, 2006 at 6:51 am

    Yum CH, what a fab brekkie, how can your day not start out right with a dish like that to set you on your way. I too love beans, in various forms, dishes, cuisines. My new legume to try out is Black Beluga lentils that I received in a Euro Blogging By Post…

  13. Frederico January 27, 2006 at 9:39 am

    Looks like beans are driving the ladies crazy… hahaha…

  14. Chubby Hubby January 27, 2006 at 9:41 am

    Elsie: Thanks. Poaching eggs has one of the more challenging things for me to learn actually. I use a wide, not too deep pan. Add some vinegar to the water and get it simmering. You MUST use really fresh eggs. Crack the eggs into a cup or small bowl. Make a small swirl in the water, i.e. get the water moving in small circles and slowly pour the egg into the center of the circle. Coook for just a minute or so; remove it with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. :-)

    MM: I love eggs on anything!

    Anonymous in Cannes: Thanks. I use a Nikon D70 with a Nikon 50mm 1:1.4 lens.

    Ivonne: My pleasure!

    Rosa: Heh… It’s only one of 2 or 3 good butchers in town. And the one I always go to. It’s owned by a Swiss family and is actually called “The Swiss Butchery”.

    Anonymous: Thanks. Glad to know I’m not the only one fussy about my yolks.

    Luisa: All of Slater’s books are awesome. I like Real Fast Food because it’s tiny. You can toss it in a carry-on and bring it with you on vacation.

    Ztransmissions: :-) Thanks! Totally flattered.

    Gastrochick: Thanks. I love Kitchen Diaries. I really like the very “real” food pix throughout the book and the woodfree paper they use.

    Green Apple: Thanks.

    Eatdrinkbmerry: Yum! Eggs, spam and fried rice is totally delicious. And a pretty popular comfort food around here also.

    Vivilicious: Oh you lucky thing. S and I have been thinking about starting an Asia-Pacific Blogging By Post… we’ve gotten so jealous reading about what you Europeans have been getting in the mail.

  15. MM January 27, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Hey Chubby Hubby, great idea! Been looking at the Euro Blog Post and all and was getting very jealous. However, I’d really like to find some Norwegian blog post partner so I cn get some of the really interesting looking local delicacies. But an Asian blog post is a brilliant idea!

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