Thursday, January 04, 2007

Anasazi Beans

When I was in Austin for the weekend last October, I went to Whole Foods with my sister and bought some Anasazi beans. There they are, just after being sorted and rinsed and right before the soaking water was added to the dish.

I bought them because I've been eager to expand my bean repertoire. And now that winter is approaching, I'm thinking about perfecting my baked beans, and experimenting with some new varieties.

These beans were called "Bob's Anasazi Beans," I'm not sure why, since they were in the bulk section of the store.

I wasn't sure how I wanted to prepare them so I did a little online research. I found this interesting site, although I'm not sure how credible the information is. Most of what I found confirmed what I already suspected; that anasazi beans could be prepared pretty much the same way as pinto beans. I did find out that they are easier to digest and cause less gas than other beans. They also cook faster.

I usually cook my beans for about an hour or so after soaking them overnight or for at least 8 hours. I don't use any seasoning (I've heard that salt keeps them from getting tender), just the beans and water. If I'm cooking a pound of beans then after they're done I freeze half and prepare the other half for immediate consumption.

I knew I could just fix these up the way I cook up pinto beans, but I was looking for something different. I didn't find many specific recipes online and wasn't sure what I was going to do. And then I saw a recipe that used a lot of the same ingredients as a mole sauce, so I thought that might be good, and a little different. I had already been thinking about cooking up some mole to go with the turkey breast I still have in the freezer from Thanksgiving, but in all honesty I just didn't feel like taking the time and trouble to make it.

Instead I decided to improvise on Hedy's Black and Red Bean Soup and was going to cook them up with some corn and chili powder. But once I got going, the mole idea wouldn't completely disappear. In addition to the chili powder I added some ground aleppo peppers. The cinnamon stick pretty much jumped in all by itself. And then I remembered the ground half tablet of mexican chocolate I had left over from the pomegranate kisses, and threw that into the pot as well.
It was decent for a first effort, but not spectacular. The cinnamon and aleppo peppers worked well with the subtle creamy taste of the beans, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) the mexican chocolate made it too sweet. I think cacao nibs and cinnamon are the way to go because it was definitely a good flavor palate.

Once I've had a chance to play around with this, I'll post a recipe.

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