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Booze in Bean Cooking Liquid


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#1 Mjx

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:38 AM

I cook dried beans fairly often, and this morning, as I was adding salt to the water covering some pinto beans, and staring at the bay leaf bobbing about in it, my sleep-deprived brain went: 'bay. . . rum'. I know Bay Rum is an early iteration of aftershave (and modern versions probably contain neither bay nor rum ), but while my brain was considering the history of male cosmetic preparations, it was also directing me to slosh in some rum. Which I did. About a quarter cup/60 ml of Bacardi Superior, to be precise.

The beans have come out really nicely, with no stony ones (unusual with the only brand of dried beans I can usualy get hold of, here), and a very pleasant texture and taste (they probably smell good too, but I'm congested to the back of my skull, so I've no idea).

Now I'm wondering, is cooking dried beans with booze a thing? Are there recipes for this? I can't recall coming across this growing up, but it doesn't feel like a hugely Tuscan thing, so that doesn't surprise me.

So, do you do this? Any special recipes you'd care to share?

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#2 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:25 AM

I've put rum in American-style baked beans, and sherry is a traditional finish to Cuban black bean soup. I'll sometimes add some wine if I'm making beans with "mediterranean" flavors. I wouldn't add wine to Swedish split pea soup tho.

Except for the Cuban soup I don't remember seeing booze in bean recipes. But maybe I don't get out enough...:)

#3 Lisa Shock

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:28 AM

Bourbon in American-style baked beans is fairly common. Other than that, I only have some vague recollections of white wine in some dish I have forgotten -catch is wine is acidic and should interfere with cooking the beans.

#4 Ttogull

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 12:17 PM

I don't care for them, but "frijoles borrachos" (drunken beans) are quite popular in the Southwest US. Typically beer is used.

#5 judiu

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 12:44 PM

Sylvia, maybe some Aquavit, or Kummel ( non-sweet) ?
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#6 patrickamory

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:59 PM

Love drunken beans and make them semi-frequently.

#7 andiesenji

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:37 PM

Consider this recipe:
Black bean soup with Bacon, Bourbon and Sweet potatoes.

and this one There are several bean with red wine recipes.

My neighbor makes Borracho Beans a slightly different recipe but look up tequila beans and you will find several versions.

Edited by andiesenji, 08 February 2013 - 08:41 PM.

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#8 Mjx

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:06 AM

Thanks! These recipes sound really good (@judiu: the exact same though crossed my mind :smile:), and it sounds like the alcohol used in them actually brings flavour to the finished dishes (mine doesn't seem to have done, although it may just be extremely subtle).

What's interesting to me is that all these recipes instruct you to add the alcohol once the beans are softened, or at least reconstituted; anyone know whether reconstituting/cooking the dry beans in an alcohol-containing liquid is known to have any effect on their finished texture? My impression from this batch alone is that it does, but I'm wondering whether this has been systematically investigated by anyone.

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#9 andiesenji

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:53 PM

ANYTHING that is even slightly acid will keep the beans tough - the skins leathery. It is best to soak and cook the beans until they are close to "done" before adding anything other than water.
The exception is very fresh beans, newly harvested.
Some baked bean recipes add everything to the soaked beans but if the beans are old, you can end up with baked small marbles...
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#10 Mjx

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 03:14 PM

What intrigued me was that this time around, none of the beans were tough or stony (usually, since beans aren't a big thing here, they're pretty old, and no matter how long they're cooked, a good number of them stay hard, and the calcium-laden local water doesn't help); these were more or less perfect, and I wondered whether the alcohol didn't have something to do with it.

Since ethanol and ethanol + water solutions are really close to pH 7 (here, probably a bit more basic), I was actually wondering whether there mightn't be some other chemical behaviour at work, completely unrelated to pH (it might have been a fluke, unrelated to cooking method).

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#11 andiesenji

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:56 PM

Since I have a large supply of beans, sometime this week I will try cooking two batches side by side. One using just water, one with booze and water.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#12 radtek

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 08:07 AM

One trick I have that will soften any dried bean is to use a tsp to a tbs of baking soda in the first soak depending on the type and amount. Beer is great in beans obviously as everyone attests too. Hoppy beers- even moderately hopped will turn the beans disgustingly bitter so don't go wasting an expensive IPA or the like in the pot. A classic American pils or similar beer with low to no hop presence works the best. Also, finished beer has a pretty low pH- often below 5.

#13 Broken English

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 05:37 PM

I've seen beer used in baked bean recipes before, it certainly did them no harm, they were delicious.
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#14 patrickamory

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:01 PM

Right, but presumably the beans were cooked before the beer was added... the beer would have gone in during the baking process which is the second part.

#15 Mjx

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 12:22 AM

For whatever it's worth, I made another poorly (read 'un')controlled experiment with cooking beans in rum.

This time, I used cannellini, and a dodgy-looking batch they were, with about half looking about a decade older then the rest, and none looking less than 'kind of old'.
However, just to see what happened, I only discarded one bean (which looked like something had been living in it, then left because it got too depressing). The rest, regardless of how withered they looked, stayed.

I dumped the half kilo of beans into a pot, added the rum (same as before, above), then added a bay leaf and boiling water, just enough to cover (I wanted to dilute the rum as little as possible, to optimize any effect it might be having). I loitered about, topping up the water so the beans stayed covered.

About an hour later, things looked pretty bad; about half the beans had picked up water, and were smooth and cream-coloured, while there rest had expanded, but looked withered and chalky. Biting into one of each, the difference was clear: the smooth, newer beans were softening, but still a bit crunchy, while the wrinkled white beans were very hard, and had softened just enough for me to notice that they were a bit rubbery.

I gave them another hour, still topping up water, to keep them just covered.

At the two-hour mark, the difference among the beans was far less pronounced, in both appearance and texture, and they had reached an 'edible, but barely' stage. I added about a tablespoon of salt, and gave them another half hour.

At this point, they were distinctly edible, although some were still slightly crunchy, so I took a chance, and drained them and transferred them to the chicken and sausage mayhem I was braising for dinner, and the beans cooked a couple more hours in broth with a bit of tomato paste, sherry vinegar, and sherry mixed in (no idea of the pH, but it was pleasantly tart, so I'm wildly guessing 'under 5').

At the four-hour mark, the beans had an extremely pleasant texture (I noticed no distinctly crunchy ones), which is not something I can normally say of a batch like the one I started with (also keeping in mind that I usually pick them over and may discard nearly half as being unlikely to ever be pleasant to eat).

I have no idea of what (if anything) alcohol does to dry beans when they absorb it, but after two unusually good batches, I'm now feeling inclined to do a controlled test.

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#16 thock

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:08 AM

A booze/no booze test with the same lot of beans, maybe? I'd be very interested to see how it turns out.
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#17 Jaymes

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 02:26 PM

I'll be interested as well. Although, since I've been putting booze into my beans at the very beginning of cooking for several decades with no ill effect, doubt anyone could convince me otherwise.

My standard recipe for borracho beans (that I've been making for some 40 years) begins with me rinsing pintos or flor de mayo or something similar, putting them into a big pot, pouring in a bottle of Dos Equis lager or Shiner Bach or other full-flavored beer, adding chicken broth (or water if I have no good broth) to cover beans well, dropping in a few cloves of garlic, sometimes a splash or two of tequila, or maybe a bay leaf, and then simmering until the beans are done. When the beans are tender, I fry up the "seasonings," as the Mexicans call them - any or all of the following: tomatoes, chiles, onions, cilantro, oregano, bacon, pork, chorizo, hamburger meat, lard, etc. - or whatever I'm in the mood for, and adding it all to the tender beans.

Baked beans - have also added booze - rum, sherry, beer - to dry beans as they cook, and then boiled down the liquid, poured it over, added brown sugar or molasses or Steen's or maple syrup or other sweetener, and then baked. Here's a recipe for Baked Beans using Sam Adams: http://www.samuelada...ger-baked-beans

I had a good friend born and raised in Bermuda and she always laced her beans with black rum while they were cooking, and then put a small pitcher of it on the table so you could add more if you wanted. She also was big on Sherry Peppers, and Rum Peppers, often shaking some into the bean pot.

Thus far, anyway, things have always worked out fine.

But maybe I've just been lucky.

#18 Mjx

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:30 AM

I have to say I was very pleased with the results of adding rum to bean cooking water, to the extent that when I do a side-by-side, I'm planning on making the no-booze control batch as small as possible, since those have tended to not turn out as well.

Jaymes, it sounds like I need to start experimenting with beer in cooking water; that sounds really good.

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#19 Jaymes

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:40 AM

Jaymes, it sounds like I need to start experimenting with beer in cooking water; that sounds really good.


I'm just guessing, but I'd say "borracho" (drunken) beans are probably the second most-popular type of beans cooked in the US southwest - second only to just plain ol' boiled beans. They are ubiquitous.

You should do a little googling to find a more detailed recipe/method than just the "by the seat of my pants" description I've given.

But I think you can't go wrong.

#20 patrickamory

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 01:13 PM

Here is my Texan friend's recipe for beans borrachos. I've made it several times and it's always a huge hit.


FRIJOLES BORRACHOS

2 poblano chiles
¼ pound of chicharron, cut into small pieces
4 slices of bacon, cut into in small pieces
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz. can of diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups good dried beans such as pintos, cooked, with their cooking liquid
Salt
Dark beer
Cilantro

1. Roast, peel, cut poblanos into small pieces.

2. Put bacon into medium sauce pan, fry in medium heat, stirring regularly until bacon is crisp, about 3 minutes. Throw in chicharron. Then put in onion. Cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Then put in garlic, stir one minute. Add chiles, cook for 2 minutes. Then the whole can of tomatoes with juice. Cook 3-4 minutes.

3. Dump beans in with liquid. And then dump in a dark beer or two -- like say, Negra Modelo -- to cover. Bring up to a nice temperature, then turn it down to medium-low and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Right before serving, stir in cilantro to taste.