Basque Red Beans
This was my sixth and last year cooking for our Basque club picnic in July. The first year I was terrified as I had hardly cooked beans, let alone 4-60 quart pots of beans. I was told I had to start them at 3:30 in the morning and stir, stir, stir. I am short…so to stir the beans I had to stand on a stool and stir with a wooden paddle. Basque men from other clubs would open the kitchen door and ask where the men were to stir the beans. There were no men that first year. Finally a taller woman took pity on me and finished stirring the beans. In those 6 years I learned a lot about cooking beans in such large quantities. (These also apply for smaller quantities)
1. Don’t add a lot of water to those beans. If you do they will disintegrate. You just want to add enough to cover plus a couple of inches. You can always add more if needed.
2. When you have a pot that is bigger than your burner make sure you can see the flame. If you can’t it might be too high and those beans will burn. (Happened more than once.) Nothing makes you cry more than a 60 quart pot of beans that are burnt at the bottom.
3. Make sure your beans are fresh. Two years in a row some of the beans didn’t soak and were hard when I went to cook them. Husband wasn’t too happy when I called him in tears at 4:30 a.m. to come and help me sort the beans.
4. Stir, stir, stir. Stirring produces a creamy texture that you need with these red beans.
After the first year I did have a man to help stir the beans. The 4th year, I along with my helper Jake decided we were never cooking beans again. This was after burning a pot.
It wasn’t until I was at a friends house and he was cooking a massive amount of beans for an FFA function that I changed my mind. Tom had these great Camp Chef cookers for each pot of beans. I immediately asked him to order some for me. What a difference that made! No burned beans and they cooked in a record amount of time. Instead of starting the beans at 3:30 a.m., I started them at 6:30 a.m. and they were done by 11 a.m. and we cooked them outside! I even got Jake back this year to stir!
This recipe is a smaller version of the one I made for the picnic. It’s a tasty dish and I hope you like it.
(All the photos are from the picnic.)
Basque Red Beans
1 pound dry red beans
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ pound chopped ham
¼ – ½ pound ham hock
2 Basque chorizo links, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Sort, rinse and soak the beans overnight in a bowl large enough to cover the beans with water plus a couple of inches.
Rinse the beans and put in a large pot and cover with water.
Bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn down to medium heat. Stir often.
As soon as they are soft and creamy they are done. About 2 hours or so.
Don’t forget to follow my other blog, The Bean Sack, at http://www.calbeans.org/blog/