Sunday, November 11

White Beans with Kale and Rosemary, and Cornbread

Tonight we dined on White beans with Greens and Rosemary and Cornbread. These are both recipes from Cook's Illustrated, which devotes itself to perfecting classic recipes. In our case, so that we can mess them up and still eat well. As you may notice from the photo, we don't have white beans--I thought for sure we did--so I replaced them with kidney beans. Also, what is not entirely clear from the photo is that my husband, who made the cornbread, followed the ingredients list instead of the recipe, just dumping everything into one bowl, disregarding the directions to keep dry and wet separate and to blend some of the ingredients--and it still turned out delicious.

The beans in particular would make a great vegetarian-friendly side dish for a Thanksgiving dinner.

If you're making these two together for a meal, start the cornbread first since it takes a long time to cool.

Cornbread

1 1/2 cups flour, all purpose (7.5 oz)
1 cup cornmeal, yellow (5.5 oz)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
3/4 cup corn, frozen and thawed (3.5 ounces)
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
8 tablespoons butter, unsalted (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly

Thaw the corn and prepare the melted butter. Preheat your oven to 400F. Oil your 8 or 9 square inch baking dish. (Cook's Illustrated recommends pyrex for baking dishes. Yes, they also test equipment.)

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.

Here's the part that Gordan dispensed with. Put the sugar, corn, and buttermilk into a blender or food processor, and blend for about five seconds. Add the eggs and blend another 5 seconds or so.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients in. Mix them together quickly a few times. Add the butter, and mix briefly. Pour the batter into your baking dish, and smooth out the surface. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until it looks deliciously golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the dish on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip it out of the baking dish and cool by itself for another 10 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve.

White Beans with Greens and Rosemary

1/2 pound white beans, soaked
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 teaspoons salt
2 pounds kale, collard, mustard, or turnip green (roughly 2 bunches), stemmed and washed and torn or cut into nicely sized pieces
1 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 teaspoon rosemary, fresh minced
a small pinch of teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt
optionally, some grated parmesan cheese for serving

stemmed, washed in 2 or 3 changes of clean water, and coarsely chopped

As I mentioned, we substituted kidney beans. We also quick-soaked the beans--you boil the beans for five minutes, and then soak them for an hour. They could have done with more soaking or cooking, I'm not sure if kidneys need more time than white beans. I'll report back when I make this again.

The beans can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Go through the beans, clean and rinse them. Soak the beans for at least 4 hours, if you aren't quick-soaking them. Simmer the beans, bay leaf, and garlic in a saucepan, partially covered, for 30 to 40 minutes. If you are making the beans and greens at the same time, start the greens now while the beans are cooking.

When the beans are done cooking, remove them from the heat, stir in the salt, and let them stand for 15 minutes so that they become more tender. A note: the original recipe called for 1.5 teaspoons of salt, but I found that slightly too salty. And when I find something too salty, that's saying a lot--I like my salt. So I decreased it to 1 teaspoon.

Drain the beans, reserve one cup of the cooking liquid, and discard the bay leaf. Store in refrigerator or set aside. Another note: the original recipe has you discarding the garlic, but I say nonsense to that--cooked garlic is delicious and nutritious, and while some might call it "unsightly" it mashes easily into the liquid, enriching the sauce.

Now before you start with the greens, I'm going to warn you about one detail. You're going to have to pour the greens into a colander, and keep using the sink for rinsing the pot. If you can keep the colander to the side in the sink, or place it into a bowl after pouring out the greens, this will work more smoothly. You'll also want to do all of this quickly.

For the greens, bring about 9 cups of water to a boil in whatever vessel is most convenient--I used our smallish stock pot. Add the salt and the greens, and stir until they're wilted. Then cover and cook for around 7 minutes, so that they become tender. Drain the greens into that colander and put aside.

Now rinse the pot with cold water to cool it down, and then fill it with cold water--enough to immerse the greens into. Drop the greens into the cold water, to prevent them from cooking further from their own heat. Now take handfuls of the greens, squeeze them out, and set them aside.

In a large pan heat the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and pepper flakes on medium heat until the garlic has just barely browned. Add the greens, stir to cover with oil. Add the beans and reserved cooking liquid. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve with the parmesan.

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