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Cool, beans. June 18, 2010

Posted by Peeps in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, Food.
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Disclosure:  I received a free gift.  I then wrote about what I thought about it.  The opinions contained here are my own.  Anyone thinking anything else can bite me.

So, do you remember when Toys mentioned that you’d hear more about the nifty package we got?  No?  Try looking here.  Up to speed?  Good.

A couple weeks ago, my wife was looking at various blogs when she ran across a give away at Marx Foods.  They’d gotten in a shipment of heirloom beans and were giving some away.  Naturally, she jumped all over it.  The package arrived over the weekend.

The box contained two packages of dried beans, each about a cups worth.  The varieties we got were pink beans and marrow beans.  There was also a letter in the box.

The nice people at Marx chose us, the letter said, in part because of the content of our blog and our obvious love of food.  It went on to mention that they felt like having a little fun.  And that they’d be holding an impromptu contest among the seven people who received free beans from them.  The best dish made from the sample beans would get the winner a bean sampler!  How did they know that we love a challenge?

After a bit of discussion, my wife and I decided to each take a package of beans and run with it.  I took the pink beans.  She did a little online research into the varieties we got, and mentioned that the pink beans were very good in both Southwestern and Caribean cuisines.  And while I love Southwest food, we haven’t had any Caribean food in ages.  Then my wife said the words that got my brain running in overdrive.  She mentioned the Jamaican chicken we did when we had the shop.

Time to prep.

First, the beans.
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As a boy, I was taught to always check dried beans for stones and sticks and other stuff you probably wouldn’t want to eat.
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As an aside, these were the nicest beans I’ve ever sorted through.  No foreign matter at all, and only one discolored bean.  I was starting to like this a lot already.
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Next, soaking.  Lots of water.  And some salt.  The people at Cook’s Illustrated recently started advocating adding salt to the water you soak beans in.  We’ve tried it before, and it works.  That’s, that.  Cover the beans and wait until tomorrow.

Now, the chicken.  The Jamaican chicken we sold at the shop was boneless, skinless breasts that you covered in a spice rub and grilled.  We happened to have some boneless, skinless thighs on hand.  And they’d stand up to longer cooking.  Sweet.
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The spice rub is easy. In a bowl combine 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, half a teaspoon each of powdered ginger ground allspice and dried thyme, and a quarter teaspoon each of salt pepper nutmeg and crushed red pepper.  It’s not authentic Jerk seasoning, but it’s mighty good.
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But before I dumped it all into the bag of chicken, I reserved about a tablespoon of the spice mixture for later. Wait, you’ll see why.  Then just make sure the chicken is about as covered with the spice mixture as you can manage and it goes into the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

The next day arrives and I’m ready to do this.  The beans get drained and rinsed and put into a pot with a small chopped onion and just enough water to cover everything.
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Cover the pot and put on high heat until you reach a boil.  Then lower the heat and simmer the beans for about two hours.

Once the beans are tender, get out your potato masher.  Why?
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So you can mash some of the beans to thicken the dish. Not too many, you want to keep most of the beans whole.
Now, remember the small amount of the spice mixture I told you to save? Here’s where it comes in.
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Dump it right into the beans, stir and continue to simmer the beans, uncovered for about another half hour.  Just long enough to deal with the chicken.

Fire up the gas grill, if you have one.  Get it nice and hot.  Put the seasoned chicken thighs on and grill, turning every so often until cooked.  About ten minutes or so. If you don’t have a grill, a hot skillet will work just as well. And make your home smell pretty nice in the bargain.
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Once the chicken is done, let it rest for a bit. You don’t want to lose any of the juices.
As it turns out, I had grilled enough chicken for a full pound of beans. Since I wanted to showcase the beans, not the chicken, I left a couple out when it was time to cut it up. Besides, in the poorer Caribean countries, meat is often just flavoring to further enhance the beans. Which is all I really wanted.
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Once the chicken has rested, cut it into a small dice.

This gets added to the beans.  Stir to combine.  Now, at this point you have a choice.  If you really want to get maximum flavor from this, put it into a container and serve it a day or two later.  Like soups and stews, beans are always better later.  But since I had a deadline to deal with, I forged on ahead.

I still had a couple hours before Toys came home for dinner.  I let the beans sit quietly off heat until we were ready.  I made a batch of rice and once that was done and resting, I reheated the beans.  Once they were warm, they went over the rice in bowls.
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It was WONDERFUL! The beans were soft and creamy and full of both flavor and character. The chicken added a richness that wasn’t overwhelming. And it was cheap and wonderfully filling. While much better suited as a winter dish, I’d eat this again any time.
I’d like to thank Marx Foods for giving me the chance to do this.

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Comments

1. mazco34 - June 18, 2010

The well executed Disclosure possessed the Peeps Tone of the past.

And isn’t it great having that grill?

Peeps - June 18, 2010

The grill is mighty handy almost all year. And the Peeps Tone really hasn’t changed much at all over the years.

2. Nickoshi - June 18, 2010

now those look like some killer beans… yum, making me hungry 🙂

Peeps - June 18, 2010

They were mighty good. Unfortunately, because they were a sample, there wasn’t much in the way of leftovers. Give them a try, you’ll be happy you did.

3. Maria - June 26, 2010

I got to test drive some beans too … and I was wishing I’d have had more leftovers too! (What’s funny as well is I’ve also got a pic of the bags of beans and then another shot of the lentils in my hand!)

I really like the flavors you used here. Great dish!

Peeps - June 28, 2010

Thank you. I plan to give your lentil dish a try sometime. It looked fabulous.

4. MarxFoods.com Blog » Blog Archive » Best Blogger Bean Recipe! - July 12, 2010

[…] mentions go to Dark Side of the Fridge for their tasty looking Jamaican Chicken with Pink Beans Recipe (recent winner of our new “You Made Me Laugh Mofo! award) and Cooking with Kait for her […]

5. Joanna - July 13, 2010

Ooh, I got marrow beans, too, and a bag of black garbanzo. They were the bomb. Now if only I can finagle Justin into sending me more so I can make your dish! I hear he takes bribes.

Peeps - July 13, 2010

Really? That’s good to know. I’m not above bribery.


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