Low and slow
These beans are cooked for an hour and a half. Why, you ask, must they be cooked for so long? Well, they’re cooked like this because the objective is full flavor while retaining a bit of crunch. Cooking longer and lower infuses flavor without overcooking the beans. Turn the heat too high and you end up with mush. An hour and a half isn’t excessive if the heat is very low and you’ll know it’s right if the liquid in the pot just ‘smiles.’ Think small bubbles around the edges and that will be just about right. And if you’re wondering why cafeteria beans are mushy it’s down to heat lights and steam table blues. Yours won’t be subjected to that so they’ll be fine.
To get started you need to cut up the bacon and fry until brown.
Finally, pour in the broth (canned or homemade) and stir vigorously making sure that the brown bits on the bottom are fully incorporated into the broth. Pop on the lid, turn the heat down and let it simmer for an hour and a half and your beans will be done. And it’s not a bad idea to check on them after about ten minutes to make sure that the liquid isn’t boiling. About fifteen minutes before they are finished you may toss in a few tablespoons of chopped red bell pepper or some strips of jarred pimento. They add color and are a subtle enhancement of the flavor.
And one final happy note! These keep in the fridge for up to three days making it possible for you to serve homemade veg in only the time it takes to warm up the leftovers. And btw – I know that’s a baguette in the picture and not cornbread, but it’s what I wanted at the time, and as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” So my not little mind wanted French instead of cornbread but if you want to be authentic here’s a recipe for the real thing. Last but not least if those wings are looking good there’s a recipe for that as well.
- 2 lbs. green beans
- 2 slices bacon (chopped)
- ½ cup diced shallots or onion
- 2 cups chicken broth (about 2 cans)
- Salt, pepper & red pepper flakes to taste
- Optional 2 tablespoons of diced red bell pepper
- Saute bacon in heavy pot until brown.
- Add shallots and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Add beans and stir until the bacon fat & onions coat the beans.
- Add chicken broth & scrape the bottom getting the browned bits incorporated into the broth. The beans should be just covered. If not add a bit of water.
- Cover & cook on lowest heat for one and a half hours.
- Add bell pepper about 10 minutes before cutting the heat.