Friday, August 12, 2011

Buckaroo Beans and Homemade Polenta

The word "buckaroo," according to wikipedia, most likely derives from the Spanish word "vaquero" and essentially means "cowboy."  Would a cowboy eat these beans?  I'm not sure.  On the one hand, there's a nice element of tex-mex-ish fusion, what with the chipotles and cocoa.  On the other hand, this is a lil too complicated to make, like out of a can out on the range or whatever.

This recipe employs dry mustard, chipotles, coffee, and chocolate!! which results in an awesome tangy, smoky, velvety, and earthy dish.

I had this recipe two ways, both of which I'd recommend: first, with fried collards and brown rice (typical macro-southern fusion); and secondly, with homemade polenta: although trader joe's polenta is cheap, easy, and tasty, I thought I'd try my hand at doing it from scratch, since I didn't have any other polenta options.  I simmered 1/2 c cornmeal in several c of water until all the water was absorbed (which happened really fast), then I put it into little cups (see photo at right) and refrigerated them a few hours.  Then, slice and fry!

So about this recipe.  I used 1 c dry black beans; I couldn't decide how much this was (the original recipe called for one pound), so I started off making a "half" but then lapsed into whole.  This meant that the dish ended up really saucy rather than beany, but still good.  Indeed, according to some random site I google, 1 lb dry beans is actually 2.2 c.  Maybe I should get a kitchen scale.

I also omitted the bell pepper, bacon bits (ew), and extra liquid.  I mistakenly used whole chipotles en adobo instead of cutting them up (whoops).  And finally, I used cocoa powder rather than chocolate--this, I think, was just fine and also healthier.

Buckaroo Beans
(adapted from frontier coop, via Janet's suggestions on my post about chili powder)

1-2 c dry beans, soaked (I used 1 c dry black beans)
2 bay leaves
1/2-1 large onion, chopped
1  large green pepper, seeds and membrane removed, chopped (I skipped this)
2-3 canned chipotle peppers en adobo, diced, with their sauce
2-4 TB cocoa powder
1/2-1 c canned crushed tomatoes (I used 1/4 c tomato paste w/some water)
1 c very strong coffee
3 TB brown sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dry mustard

1. Drain the beans well, rinse, and place in a large pot with fresh water to cover. Add the bay leaves and place over high heat. Bring to boil; lower heat and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes for anasazi, 1 1/2 hours for pintos. Remove from heat. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
3. Spray a bean pot or other deep, nonreactive casserole with cooking spray. Scatter the onion and green pepper over the bottom, then add the drained beans.
4. Whisk the chipotles and adobe sauce, unsweetened chocolate, crushed tomatoes, coffee, brown sugar, chili powder, oregano (crush the leaves between your fingers as you add it, to release the essential oils), salt, ground cumin, and dry mustard into the reserved bean cooking liquid. When well combined, pour over the beans. The liquid should just cover the beans; if it doesn't, add just enough boiling water, coffee, or vegetable stock to achieve this. Cover and bake for 6 hours, checking every once in a while to make sure the liquid level is maintained.
5. After the beans have baked for 6 hours, uncover. Stir to distribute the onion and green pepper throughout the beans. Return to oven and bake for 50 minutes more. If using, stir in bacon bits and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot, with cornbread or tortillas, and pass any desired accompaniments at the table.  Serves 4-6.

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