A Bowl of Beans Unlike Any You’ve Ever Tasted.
Here I am, back with another bowl-of-beans recipe. And this one is a beauty. The day before I cook my beans is when I get to really thinking about how I’m going to serve them. I always soak them overnight in salted water. I’m a believer in this technique. The beans are seasoned all the way through and always turn out creamy.
Seeing as how big and substantial Rancho Gordo’s Christmas Lima Beans are, I decided to go full “hog” on these. I cooked them with a smoked ham hock, aromatics, rosemary and bay leaves, and some red pepper flakes. I wanted plenty of flavor in the broth.
As the beans were cooking, I got inspired by a condiment that’s new to me. Ottolenghi has a recipe for quickly preserved lemons, which he then purees. I couldn’t see why this technique wouldn’t work well with clementines. I sliced them up, added some additional clementine juice and lemon juice, and then plenty of salt, as that’s key to the flavor of preserved lemons. I thought I needed lemon juice in order to keep the orange flavor from being flat. All of this goes into a covered saucepan and is cooked until the rinds are softened. This only takes about 15 to 18 minutes.
Then, it goes into a food processor and is fully pureed. What you’re left with is a salty flavor explosion with the texture of citrus curd. I couldn’t help but think a spoonful of this would be just what was needed to wake these beans up.
But I needed some crunch, too. So, good old croutons seemed to be the answer. Because they’d be sitting in some liquid I made them with crusty country bread, a little olive oil, and seasoning. I let them bake until they were completely dried out and very crispy. This way they could sit in the broth and not go soggy right away. Soft bread with a fine crumb is not what you want to use here.
Well, the end result is what you see. Chives, a little drizzle of chili oil, and a sprinkle of black pepper were all that was needed to finish it off. As to the orange cream, it is fantastic. I only put a small spoonful on everyone’s bowl, but as we ate, we all added an additional spoonful to our bowls. I’ve got plenty left over and have plans for adding it to another recipe I’ll be working on this week. I can think of so many ways to use it. It brings a whole lot to the table and I’m thinking a lime version would also be delicious.
NOTE: I only used half of the cooked beans for this recipe. If you decided to eat all of them this way, you will need to bake additional croutons.