(This post originally appeared on Friday Jan. 7th under the Dean & DeLuca Gourmet Blog section of this blog (in the right column)). It’s being featured in the main section as a trial. Thanks for checking it out!)
National Bean Day was Wednesday and I had every intention of sharing 3 of my favorite bean recipes. But, I got carried away with all the different varieties and brands out there, and couldn’t narrow down my options. Until late last night when the unexpected urge to have chili hit me. Maybe it was because the temperature dropped to 25 after being in the 60s. That kind of volatility will drive you to stay home and cook.
Where I come from, beans are a staple and major element to our diet. They’re a fantastic source of protein and fiber. Even the more fattening one are good for you. Because beans are complex carbohydrates, they offer an extremely amount of energy and quickly fill you up, allowing you to avoid a super splurge on sugar just an hour later. From my unofficial research and survey among friends, black beans seem to be the most popular and favored as they’ve made the cross-over to American cuisine. I’ve worked with black beans my entire life and have found them to be the best go-to bean for meatless dishes requiring something meaty, earthy and of substance. Pour well cooked and seasoned beans over white rice (Jasmine or plain long grain) and you’ve scored a serious comfort meal.
Second to black beans, I’d personally say that garbanzo or chickpeas are top on the list of frequently eaten beans. While chickpeas are actually a legume, they are often mistaken for beans and are used and referred to as such. They come in many varieties and are extremely versatile, much like the black bean. It’s also very meaty and acts a great filler. We all love hummus, right? The white or light yellow colored garbanzo is responsible for the dip so often served with pita chips.
Because beans are so inexpensive and accessible to everyone, they’re used in a lot of different cuisines and meals. From fast food restaurants offering bean burritos, to the most exquisite star rated restaurant making a delectable bean purée, beans are in more places than you could possibly think of.
Now that it’s winter, it’s not question for me to keep my pantry filled with at least 6 different kinds of beans. I have to have enough options in the event I get sick of one. Eating black beans 4 days a week is not my idea of really enjoying them, though I’m totally guilty of having done that. Hey, beans always taste better the 2nd and 3rd day. Always. But, when you can make food like chili, a quintessential American stew bean stew of sorts, as I did last night, you can have all the fun in the world and play with mixing and matching little pods.
I hadn’t made a really good and robust chili in a while so I decided to get fancy and add ingredients I’d not usually incorporated into my recipe. There’s bar chili and then there’s really good chili! I consider this one to fall in the latter category. A bit of sage, truffle oil, lean meat and a combination of the right beans and you’ve got a bowl of chili good enough to package and market!