Sunday, July 19, 2009

Basque Beans and Rice

I think it was May ( I say I think... because in my line of work... days blend together, children's names get confused and sometimes you forget your own... so bear with me...) Jody and I actually got a chance to get away for a few days. The company that he works for sent him to Boise, Idaho for a Skills Competition. ( I would explain what that is, but you would get bored and stop reading...) While we were away ( which is the point to this story), we ate at this FABULOUS Basque Restaurant. It is the kind of restaurant anyone who has thought about owning a restaurant wants to own. We were greeted at the door by a grand daughter of the actual Eppie. And she was probably in her 60's so this place had been around for a year or two... Now I guess I will get to the point............. THE FOOD!...... it was the BEST and the MOST food I have ever seen in my life! It just kept coming out of the kitchen. Finish a dish... more came.... finished your soup.... you got more....... They made the BEST bean soup!
Now, if you know me, and have seen me lately, you know that I really enjoy food. God gave us these things called taste buds and boy, am I glad that he did. After experiencing this most delicious food, I decided that this was one of those things I could do in my own kitchen, and personalize it with some other things I know my family likes.
I have no idea why I decided to post it on here......... clearly, I had nothing better to do one afternoon, between potty training, teaching and cooking......... than to take pictures of the food I was cooking. Maybe it was boredom, maybe it was too much Food Network the night before... who knows...........

First you brown up about a half a pound of bacon.
When the bacon is brown you add in half an onion and about 6 stalks of celery, chopped.
You want to wilt this a bit.
Then add carrots. I never really have big ones around, only the small ones for snacking, so this is probably 15-20 small carrots chopped.

Then I decided to throw in the rib meat that was left over from last night's dinner. I have added ham at this point, pork, could even put in leftover steak. Be frugal, find a way to use what you have so it doesn't go to waste.

Then you are going to add the beans. I use one package of the small red beans. I quick soak them according to the package directions with the exception that it says to soak them for 1 hour, I usually soak them for 2 at least. Then I always rinse them out, and discard the soak water.
Give it a good stir.
Then cover it with water. 6 cups usually does the trick.
Add some bay leaf, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. I know, you at thinking garlic should have gone in with the onions.... alas I will tell you no. Most cooks have a habit of over sauteeing their garlic, and causing the dish to become bitter. To avoid this add your garlic later in the process, especially when you are doing something that will simmer and cook for a few hours. No one will know you put it in later.... but the will notice if you burn it and make your dish bitter.

Cover and simmer on LOW till dinner time ( 3 hours )

Just before I serve, I cut up a package of these sausages. They are NOT spicy like you would think with them being called Chorizo. They are the Spanish Basque version of this sausage, and they are WONDERFUL!

Add 2 red bell peppers. These and the sausages only need to heat through.

I serve the whole dish over brown rice. I take a couple of Tablespoons of butter and melt it in a pan, then I add my 2 cups of brow rice, I saute the rice in the butter for a few minutes, and this keeps the rice from sticking together as it cooks. I also add 2 Knorr bouillon cubes during this process, as well as a 1/4 tsp of cumin, pepper, and Mrs Dash Chipotle seasoning. THEN I add the 4 cups of water , bring to a boil, and simmer on LOW for 50 minutes.
It really is a great hearty meal, and it is even better the next day. The kids see me bring out a bag of beans in the morning and they start to get excited, and they actually fight over the leftovers.
If you do try it... please come back and post here and let me know if liked it, ( or hated it.... I suppose I can handle the criticizim.......) and if you did how you personalized it for your family.

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