Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Bean Journal....you don't know until you taste!
I think I mentioned that Saturday was a "bean fest" at the Farmers' Market where I picked up 4 different varieties of "fresh dried" beans. I bought two packages of Blue Coco beans, one pkg each of Black Eyed Peas, Cranberry beans and Gila River beans. The Blue Coco beans I already know I love since I quickly cooked up the last ones I bought 3 weeks ago. The Black Eyed Peas I got in my CSA about 1 month ago from this same farm (Full Belly), and although I didn't find them to be more special than BEP I get from the market, I feel better knowing where the product is coming from and how old it is. The Cranberry beans also came from Full Belly, and the Gila River from Coke Farm, same as the Blue Coco....those were the most interesting to look at.
I've been wanting to start somewhat of a "Bean Journal" for a while now since I really have never taken the time to actually "taste" even the most popular supermarket varieties. The only reason I know anything about wine is because Mark and I used to (still do) side by side taste tests to see which wine we like better! It's very apparent when you taste them that way and at least with wine you can cross off the ones you don't like and start to collect the ones you do. I think it's the best way to learn your preferences, and how to pair different foods with one another. Back to beans...
I wanted to make two batches of soup/stew this morning, one lamb, one chicken, using my new beans! but which bean with which protein? Only one way to find out! I cooked up 1/2 of each in the PC (it took about 5 min) and pureed them before I did a side by side taste. The difference was obvious as to which I thought would pair best with both proteins.
The Gila River beans (pictured left) have a.....at first I wanted to say "milky" taste, and then I realized it was an "earthy creamy" taste and feel. 100%, no doubt, pairing with the lamb. The flavor was too strong for a mild chicken stew, but will hold it's own and add to the depth of lamb. And a bonus is that I think the look of the bean with it's darker purple-y color will be more complimentary with lamb.
The Cranberry beans are much milder, in fact similar to pinto, but in truth I over salted the small portion, and until I do a "side by side" with pintos I'll save permanent judgement. But what I could tell is that the bean would not clash with the chicken, and that was the intention of the experiment!
So, I guess I just started my Bean Journal!
PS If you ever watch cooking shows where Chefs are presented with ingredients they have never used before, they always taste them first! You have got to taste your foods to know what you prefer! (or your wines...or cheeses, heck everything!) I've written many times before that my taste palate is not that sophisticated, but it's all fun, and at the end of the day it's "just cooking"! I'm off to make some Lamb and Gila River Bean Stew!