My first thought for this month’s IMBB theme was to make a simple bean dish with homemade tortillas, because fresh corn tortillas are so much better than anything those of us who grew up eating the commercial white flour kind would imagine (just ask anyone who has traveled to a part of the world where they are eaten as daily sustenance). I didn’t get around to it. Instead, I’m going to write about something I made for my housewarming party yesterday.
The bean recipe came from Epicurious.com, with a couple of modifications. I ignored the directions to buy dry tomatoes (not in oil) and rehydrate them with hot water, and I used a stand mixer rather than a food processor, which gave it a chunkier texture. If you don’t have a mixer, you can probably get similar results with a spoon and a potato masher.
This is my version:
1 can of pinto beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2-3 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 cup of sun-dried tomato slices in oil, strained
Drain the can of beans and pour them into the mixer bowl. Add the oil, vinegar, garlic, and tomatoes, and mix using the flat beater. A warning: start at a slow speed and then increase as the beans get mashed, unless you want them to fly everywhere. I only mention it because I forgot about this problem and immediately turned the mixer to one of the middle settings, only to discover just how well oiled beans can fly.
When the beans seem creamy enough, add salt to your tastes. You can then keep this in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.
Now for the polenta. I worked from Julia Child’s directions in The Way to Cook, but it’s pretty simple. 2 cups of polenta meal, 6 cups of water, a teaspoon or so of salt. Pour the polenta and water into pot, and stir with a whisk over medium heat. You can either try to be traditional about it and stir for the entire 45 minutes of cooking, or turn the heat down a notch once it’s simmering, cover the pot, and come back and stir periodically. I went with the first method only because I was cooking other things at the same time. When it’s done, it’ll be thick and gelatinous.
When the polenta is finished cooking, take it off the heat, and pour out onto a large piece of parchment spread on your kitchen counter. Top with pats of butter and grated parmesan cheese (I applied butter and spread the polenta out into an even layer as a single step). Give it a couple of minutes to set and cool, then cut the polenta into squares. Serve with a spoonful of bean dip on top.
I have leftovers of both the polenta and beans, so later I’m going to try a second-day version with toasted polenta (maybe cooked dry in a frying pan to get a crunchy surface).