Happy 2021, friends! It feels foolish to be excited about the new year since it’s unlikely that anything will change, but it’s nice to be excited. I think we could make this year better than last, in so many ways, but it’s only going to happen if we make the effort to do so, it’s not guaranteed. So let’s do what we can to make this year a good one!
My first step of a great year? A good first meal prep! I had made a pot of beans before but they just weren’t that good. So I was determined to make a good one and I definitely succeeded! I did a lot of research, much of it thanks to Carla Lalli Music from Bon Appetit among other recipes. Here’s what I learned:
- build flavor from the very beginning – I used the pot I cooked the bacon in to make the beans so I got all that good flavor from the pot. I threw in some stock along with the water, as well as a bunch of fat! Don’t shy away from it – I used the fat from cooking the bacon as well as a good amount of olive oil. It adds so much flavor!
- don’t be afraid of salt – beans are one food that can handle, and needs, a lot of salt. start with a heavy, heavy pinch and taste the liquid as you go. if it’s not salty, you probably need a bit more salt
- cook slowly – in order to get that soft texture throughout the entire bean, they need to cook slooooowly so they cook evenly. don’t let them get above a simmer! it’ll be worth the time
- add the herbs in at different points in time – I added a bunch right when I started the beans and more right towards then end. That way you get both the longer cooked herbs flavor as well as a fresher version
- add some vinegar right at the end to brighten the whole thing up – I used red wine vinegar and it made a huge difference! you don’t need much, maybe 1-2 tbsp for the whole pot
- I topped mine with a lemon garlic aioli which is optional but also kind of not…it’s so good and goes perfectly with the rich beans and bacon!
Using that method, I came up with an amazing pot of beans! It’s also a one pot meal, which makes it even better. Feel free to switch up the herbs and flavorings, you really can’t go wrong.
Bacon Rosemary Beans
makes 5-6 servings
- 1 lb dry beans. I used white beans, but you can use others!
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 small onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 package bacon
- 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup chicken stock, optional
- 3-4 sprigs rosemary
- ~5oz kale, or other kind of hardy green
- 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- garlic lemon aioli, recipe below, for serving
- crusty bread, for serving
How to do it
- make the bacon: in the pot you’ll make the beans in, cut the bacon into pieces and cook until crispy and all the fat has rendered. remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel and pour the fat into a container, leaving all the goodness in the bottom of the pot there. set both aside
- soak the beans: put the beans into the pot. add cold water to generously cover the beans by 1-2 inches. cover and refrigerate overnight
- prep the veg: cut the carrots and celery into 2 inch pieces. remove the skin from the onion and cut into wedges. remove the skin from the garlic and crush slightly
- start the beans: remove the beans from the fridge and add water if needed. there should be enough to just cover the beans. cook over medium high heat until the water comes to a boil and foam rises to the top. skim off the foam
- add the veg: add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, stock, if using, and 2-3 sprigs rosemary to the pot. add the reserved bacon fat and enough olive oil to create a 1 inch thick fat cap on top of the beans
- cook the beans: reduce the heat so the beans are at a bare simmer and cook for 45 – 90 minutes. This will depend on the beans you’re using, but you’ll know the beans are done with you bite into one and it’s soft all the way through
- finish the beans: when they’re done, remove the carrots, celery, and rosemary stalks. add remaining rosemary and kale and let cook for another 5 minutes. add the red wine vinegar to finish
- enjoy: serve topped with the bacon, some lemon garlic aioli, and crusty bread
Lemon Garlic Aioli
makes 1/2 cup
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
How to do it
- in a medium bowl, combine the egg yolk, salt, and lemon juice. finely grate the garlic in and mix to combine
- whisking constantly, add the olive oil a drop at a time. it’ll take a minute, but if you go faster you could break the emulsion
- store in an airtight container and enjoy!