The mental health professionals who fawn over me at nearly every turn these days tell me that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem to begin with. What the Hell do they know? Seriously, however, this is my confession to you. On this Super Bowl Sunday, I'm here to admit that I am a serial abuser.
I abuse beans. I didn't mean too, of course, but I've been abusing beans for years. It's always been a goal of mine to make the perfect pot of home-cooked beans. But it really didn't matter what recipe I used as my beans would turn out more like a refried bean dish than anything else. Barbecue beans came out looking and tasting like barbecue refried beans. Boston Baked Beans? You guessed it, Boston Baked Refried Beans.
|Ranch Style Beans Copycat|
Oh -- I tried all sorts of tricks to solve my little abuse problem. Additional ingredients? Check! Soaking the beans overnight? Check! Different types of beans? Check! But, in the end, it really didn't matter. My beans would fall apart into a sad looking mush.
What in Hades was I doing wrong?
But, thanks to this wonderful invention called the internets, I would find a solution to my problem. The internet, at some point, replaced grandmother and her fine advice. It was a simple problem with a simple answer:
|Don't Abuse the Bean!|
I was abusing my beans. I had been for years. Beans are fragile things the man on the other side of the internet portal explained. Treat them like you would treat your own children. Not that I would drop my own kids into a vat of simmering water mind you, but I got the idea.
If you are to believe the old Klingon poverb (Wrath of Khan) that "revenge is a dish best served cold," then one must also believe that "beans are to be treated with care." They are not to be boiled or placed on a hard simmer for many hours. That just results in a mush. Beans are to be brought to a boil and then allowed to simmer gently over a period of three to four hours. No bubbles! Bubbles are bad! Bubbles in your slow-cooked bean mixture mean BAD NEWS. Nope, the aim here is for a gentle, slow roil.
This isn't as easy as it sounds -- especially for those of you to be stuck with electric stoves. Gas works best. And when it comes to my home-cooked bean creations, I'm an expert at gas.
I've always had a love affair with beans -- especially on Super Bowl Sunday. Those legendary Hamm's Scam (you think we're serving great beer, but it's really just Hamm's) parties of the past featuring deep fried chicken strips or wings plus a pot of home-cooked beans may be history for me now -- but they will never be forgotten.
My most recent goal has been trying to recreate one of my favorite canned bean dishes: Ranch Style Beans. Although there's a pretty good copycat recipe on a blog called Homesick Texan, it wasn't quite what I was looking for. It was close, but it was missing a key ingredient and I wasn't quite sure what.
|"Must Have" Ingredient|
I'm not here to tell you today that the recipe I've stumbled upon is by any means perfect. But it's a pretty good imitation in my fair opinion. To be honest and fair, it's not the healthiest meal on the planet. Which means you shouldn't be serving yourself this creation every week or every month for that matter.
But for special occasions like Super Bowl Sunday? When you really don't give darn about the two teams in the big game? And the team you do root for is coming off a pathetically bad two win season? This makes for a good meal. And helps erase the pain of a 14-loss season.
Ranch Style Beans Copycat Recipe
Three pieces of thick cut bacon (I usually get the peppered or honey-cured bacon from meat counter at Raley's or Bel-Air.
1-3 cups of Pinto beans (soaked overnight)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa
1-2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 12-ounce can tomato juice
1 32-ounce container beef broth, plus 3-4 additional cups as needed
Directions: Cut three pieces of bacon in half and fry in a skillet over medium-low heat until well browned. Remove bacon to drain and cool and pour bacon fat into the pot you will be using to cook your beans. Add container of beef broth, plus two additional cups of beef broth, leaving two in reserve. Add tomato juice, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, cocoa and garlic salt.
Rinse soaked beans and add them to pot. Place cooked and cooled bacon into a food processor or blender and chop into fine bits. Scrape bacon into pot and bring to a solid boil. Reduce heat to a slow roil. Cook beans at a low heat, stirring every 30 minutes, until tender. Beans should be ready in about 3.5 hours, but may need additional cooking to completely soften. Test taste and add additional garlic salt if needed.