Food Study: Beans

Hello Readers,

Thank you so much for your patience as I have taken time to get my pain managed. Now, that I'm back in the kitchen, and a little broke due to all the price increases that have been going on (yikes! you noticed too, huh?), I thought our food study for the next month or so should be beans!

I purchased two bags of beans last weekend. One 2 lb. bag of black beans and one 2 lb. bag of Great Northern White Beans. Total cost: $2.35. Yes, my darlings, even a .45 cent bag o' beans is essentially a thing of the past. But still, when you can fill a whole stock pot full of food for under 3 bucks (and feel at least 10 people with that), that is NOT BAD!

As you probably experience in your own home, the trick is getting your family on board with both the idea of having beans for dinner and actually eating them. Not everyone is a fan. So this presents a dual challenge: make it cheap and make it good enough to win them over! I have a feeling this is going to take some serious experimentation and study of flavors but with enough research I'm always optimistic that even the most cantankerous among us can be converted. Today is Thursday and I have already made Black Bean Burgers one night and Black Bean Tacos (using the leftover burgers) on the following night. Right now, I'm simmering a pot of Great Northern Whites in chicken broth with a bay leaf, garlic and onion powder and salt. Heck, I might throw some of my favorite frozen turkey sausage in there in a minute.

Now, beans are very popular in soup format but I can tell you right now, soup also does not fly around here (though I myself love soup). If it does end up being a soup, it has be hearty and thick like chili. So, what I can do is make white chicken chili out of it. The problem is, when you look at ingredients for white chicken chili, they are fairly hard on the budget. Chicken is about $7-9 dollars a package now, you'll need sour cream and cheese. So... before you know it, we'll be missing the whole point of frugality and simplicity with the beans. I think what I'd like to do, is puree them so that it is a thick soup, add some garlicky sauteed spinach for color and texture and a little cream, maybe some parmesan too. Kind of like a thick and hearty, very filling escarole. I'll puree the bits of sausage right along with it so that it adds a delicious smoky and meaty flavor. And then serve with some nice crusty Italian Bread that I know I can get for $2.

Tomorrow, I shall post the outcome of this experiment and if it won over the picky people in the household. Pictures and recipes to follow of course. :) If not, I'm sure there is an inexpensive way to make white chicken chili, maybe with canned chicken packed in water (no preservatives) for $2.00? If you have other ideas, please feel free to post your comments below. Or on my Facebook Page.

Thanks so much for studying with me! :)

Oh and here's the recipe for the Black Bean Burgers:

Prepare 16 oz bag of dried black beans according to package directions. If you have a day job, you might want to do the overnight soak and then cook them in the crock pot all day with a little sausage.

Or - use 3 cans of black beans.

In a food processor or use a pastry knife, chop up beans and add the following. (I eyeballed the ingredients so this is my best guess. Taste mixture before adding eggs).

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp - 1/4 cup taco sauce
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup ketchup
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs

Mix all together with a fork, except eggs, and taste. Adjust seasoning if needed. Add eggs. If mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs. It should be a stiff consistency. Heat a little oil in a skillet on medium (slightly high). Shape the patties relatively thin (they won't shrink like meat does). Note: if patties are too thick, it will take too long to get the inside cooked and they will burn on the outside.

Cook 3-5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve. Makes about 10 burgers.

You can also broil these about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Note that if you omit the eggs, these will be prone to falling apart in the skillet so you'll have to be extra gentle when flipping. But I made a few of these egg free and they were still very good. They taste a little more like falafel that way but a very good falafel patty. :)

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