Lots of wonderful things have happened as of late and I apologize for the delay in sharing them with you – but soon you’ll be excited too and you’ll forget all about how you’re cross with me for dropping off the planet for a week (or two.)
#1 The Village Voice printed my letter to Sarah DeGregorio, author of Is Foie Gras Torture? in the letters section of today’s edition. You can see my name all shiny under the Voice’s masthead here.
#2 The first incarnation of The Gourmand & the Peasant Gastropub’s menu debuted to exciting reviews from my instructor/conduit to investors as well as my culinary management classmates. It was pretty awesome to print and hold the menu, an object of proof. A harbinger of a key to a space somewhere out there.
#3 I learned yesterday that I am the 2009 – 2010 recipient of the Culinary Trust’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference Grant for Emerging Professionals, which means that I’ll be blogging from Denver April 1-4! More info on the conference can be found here, and the program schedule is here. Its foodie porn.
#4 My first real life cooking with a chef experience was in James Beard’s kitchen. Well, his former kitchen, as he is dining at the banquet in the sky these days, but his townhouse in Greenwich Village has been made into a gastronomic alter of sorts and hosts world class chefs nightly to create dinners for anyone to come and enjoy. I had the honor and privilege of working with Chef Kerry Heffernan of South Gate and his staff. As soon as they post pictures, I’ll send the link, but for now, you can read about the James Beard Foundation and see upcoming events here.
Finally, I owe you a recipe! Fresh from the pages of the Gourmand & the Peasant’s menu:
Tangy Sorghum Baked Beans
1 pound dry beans
(go wild in the Goya isle, I’ve had success with all the varieties I’ve tried. I personally prefer larger beans like cannelini but little ones work too, just adjust your cooking times accordingly.)
6 slices bacon
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup sorghum
1/4 cup Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
2 T Worchesershire sauce
2 T whole grain mustard
1 T Sriracha hot sauce
1 1/2 T salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dry garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp hot smoked pimentone
1/2 cup onion, diced
On the day before you want to eat the beans (or several days before, but the day before you want to cook the beans) place them in a colander and rinse them under cold water, sifting through carefully to make sure that all that’s in there are beans, not rocks or diamonds. Place the beans in a large pot, bowl, or other container and cover by four inches with fresh water. Allow to sit at room temperature, uncovered, overnight.
The next day, you’ll see your beans have expanded, but they are still raw. Pour off the soaking water, give the beans another quick rinse and set aside. Fill a large pot with plenty of water and and bring to a rolling boil. When the water is rapidly boiling, add the beans, wait until the water returns to a boil, and reduce the heat so that the water is just simmering. Don’t cover the beans. If you do, all those gases that some people find unpleasant will be trapped in the pot and absorbed into the beans, and then you. Leaving the cover off allows the gases to escape pre-digestion.
Boiling time depends greatly on you bean choice, and how low a simmer you use. My rule is to simmer for 30 minutes, and eat a bean. If they aren’t done, and they never are at this point, I set the timer and eat a bean at 15 minute intervals until they are tender to the tooth. If they get mushy or explode, you’ve gone too far. Finish the recipe, but next time, don’t cook so long. This simmer is the only softening process the beans will undergo, so make sure you get them to the texture you like before taking them off the heat.
While the beans are cooking, start your bacon rendering in a sautée pan over VERY low heat. The key to rendering fat is “low and slow” thus the fat has a chance to melt away leaving behind crisp bacon slices, as opposed to making the fat itself crispy. Yuck. Flip the slices over every few minutes to cook evenly.
While that all is going on, combine all the remaining ingredients except the onion in a large mixing bowl.
When the bacon is rendered and crisp, remove it from the pan and drain it on paper towels. Add the diced onion to the bacon fat and turn up the heat. Cook the onion just a minute or two, then dump the contents of the sautée pan into the mixing bowl, yes, bacon fat and all, and chop the drained bacon into small pieces and add that to the bowl as well.
When the beans are cooked to your liking, drain them and add them to the mixing bowl. Give a good stir to fully coat all the beans in sauce, but be gentle and break as few beans as possible. Pour the contents into a 13×9 glass baking dish and bake uncovered at 350° for 1 hour, stirring once halfway through.
The beans will keep up to a week.