Every time we move to a new place it opens me up to a new world of ingredients. It’s probably obvious how that would happen with a move to Brazil. But I even felt this way when we moved back to a more rural area of Kentucky. Then, of course, there was the Bay Area.
This time around that new world of ingredients belongs to Mexican cuisine. I’ve barely scratched the surface on what is available to me. I’m also learning that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about these ingredients.
I discover something new every time I go to the market.
My exploration has been slow to get started, but a little while back I found a barrel of Peruano beans while shopping at the farm store where I buy much of our citrus. I bought them just because they were new to me. I have yet to meet a bean I didn’t like so I wasn’t worried about my impulse purchase. Then after researching, I learned that they are a sweet and creamy Peruvian bean. Perfect.
I’ve been reading about baking beans versus cooking them on the stove top or in a slow cooker. Oh and pressure cookers are out. I know, I know. People have been telling me for years that they will solve all my problems and new models are so much better, but it’s just not a gadget I want in my kitchen right now. So anyway, back to baking.
I decided to experiment with baking the beans and I loved the results. It’s an especially good option when you have the oven going for other things. For me, it’s a hands off method and switches things up from my overuse of the slow cooker. I thought it also gave the beans a more roasted flavor and I was able to nail the consistency and tenderness I wanted.
After baking these beans, I cooked some Mexican chorizo and stirred it into the pot. A sprinkle of cilantro and Cotija cheese and dinner was good to go.
Mexican ingredients won’t be the only thing I’ll be experimenting more with in the coming months. I hear there is a strong Portuguese culture here so I may be pulling out some old favorites from Brazil. Basque cuisine is prominent nearby, too. And that is something completely unfamiliar to me. There is a lot more learning and eating to do so stay tuned!
Back to the beans, though. Do you have a favorite bean? I’m amazed at how flavors and textures can vary in such a specific food. I’d love to try some new varieties.
Baked Peruano Beans with Mexican Chorizo
Makes: 8 servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups dry Peruano beans, rinsed
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons fine ground sea salt
3/4 lb. Mexican chorizo, cooked
1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a 5 quart soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the beans. Stir in the water. Cover and bake for about 2 hours. Check the pot regularly during the final half hour to ensure liquid still remains in the pot. Add more if necessary.
After 2 hours, the beans should be soft, but some liquid will likely remain in the pot. Remove the lid and bake 10 more minutes to evaporate some of excess liquid.
Remove the pot from the oven. Stir in the salt. Next, stir in the cooked chorizo. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with cilantro and Cotija cheese and enjoy.