When I was a kid, I didn’t care for beans. To me they were chalky and flavorless. It wasn’t until I became a young cook that I started to appreciate beans. Learning how to cook them was key, and I listened to a ton of advice on how best to achieve a creamy center and an intact skin.
I tried several methods, including soaking overnight, adding baking powder, and the “quick boil” method. They all work, and I’m sure there are firm believers in one method or another. For me, I’m more in the mind-set of Rick Bayless. In his cookbook, Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen, published in 1996 he speaks to cooking beans:
“…I was taught to soak beans and I no longer do. Never having seen Mexican cooks soak their beans, I’ve come to the conclusion that they know what is right…
…rinse then, cover them with a good amount of water (roughly three time the volume of beans), bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to the point that the water gently rolls up from the center…
…If the beans are covered during cooking, they come out creamier; when uncovered they’re more separate and nicely intact (especially if you use lots of water). The more beans you cook at once, the more evenly cooked and better textured they will be.”
In his restaurant in Chicago, they cook more than 30 pound of beans a day. I fully trust his judgement here, and so, I’ve adapted his method slightly, but stick to his direction.
Rice and beans have connections all over the world and in many cuisines. I’ve grown to love them and make a pot of rice and beans often and embrace flavors from Asia to Latin America as I do.
This recipe uses meat; however, you could eliminate the andouille completely with equally good flavor. I like my rice a little sticky, for me, it’s easier to eat this way when large clumps of rice sit nicely on my fork.
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 andouille sausages, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 dried ancho chili peppers, seeds removed, torn into small pieces
1 dried guajillo pepper, seeds removed, torn into small pieces
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups adzuki beans (or any beans you have on hand)
2 cups fresh corn kernels
2 teaspoons salt, divided use
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided use
1 cup short grain rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
Zest of 1 lime
½ serrano chili pepper, very finely sliced
½ bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage
1 cup pickled onions
8 lime wedges
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the andouille sausage and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage has given up its fat, is slightly browned, and the onions are unevenly browned, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the ancho and guajillo chili peppers, the baking soda and the beans. Cover with plenty of water, about 8 cups. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and then lower to a simmer. Cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, partially covered until the beans are tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the beans in liquid, covered by about ½ an inch. When the beans are cooked, stir in the corn kernels, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper. Cover, and keep hot, stirring occasionally.
Stir together the rice, coconut milk, water, remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper and lime zest, in a 2-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring mixture to a simmer over low heat, cover, and cook, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, covered, for another 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid.
Just before serving, toss together the serrano, cilantro and red cabbage with a pinch of salt, pepper, and the squeeze of a lime wedge. Portion the beans into a bowl, add the rice, and top with the serrano mixture and a little pickled onion. Serve with a lime wedge.