A Taxonomy of Classic American Bean Dishes
"I like refried beans. That's why I wanna try fried beans, because maybe they're just as good and we're just wasting time. You don't have to fry them again after all." Mitch Hedberg
Beans are an important part of American culinary heritage. This section contains the canon of American bean dishes, always found accompanying local versions of barbecue. Their roots are often in other cultures, but the recipes have been thoroughly Americanized.
The Science of Beans. Begin by reading this article to learn about how to handle dried beans and canned beans.
Boston Baked Beans. They don't call it Beantown for naught. For it was in Boston that the notion of mixing dried beans with molasses was concieved and still reaches the peak of perfection.
South Carolina Hoppin John. Hoppin' John (shown at right) is a bean, rice, and pork dish popular in coastal South Carolina and Georgia. It probably originated with black slaves from the Caribbean brought in through Charleston around which there were large rice plantations. It is still very popular among the Gullah on the Carolina coastal islands.
Grannies Texas Beans. During hard times, beans have kept many Texans alive. For more than a few, the bean pot contained simply beans, salt, pepper, and maybe a little pork fat or bacon. You can go crazy with additions, but this is the classic, simple, home style recipe. When you visit classic Texas pitstops, beans are almost always on the menu, and outsiders, particularly Yankees, are often surprised to discover that they are simple and not sweet.
New Orleans Red Beans & Rice. In New Orleans (pronounced NOR-leens), Sunday is traditionally ham night, and on Monday, wash day, the leftover ham and the ham bone are used to make Red Beans and Rice, a traditional Creole classic main dish that can be prepped quickly and needs several hours to simmer. It has been thus forever.
Kentucky Bourbon Barbecue Baked Beans. Make Baked Beans soooo much better than the stuff from the can. Bourbon is the secret.
Hot Dog Chili. Many Americans consider chili to be a mix of beans and ground meat, and that combo is common especially in the East and Midwest, especially on hot dogs. Beans are never found in classic Cowboy Chile.
California Drunken Beans (Frijoles Borrachos) from Steve Sando. These "drunken beans" start with the usual onion, garlic, chiles, bacon or fatback, and then the all cook in beer.
Other Classic American Bean Recipes Coming Soon
Pennsylvania Succotash. A native American crazy quilt of lima beans, other beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, onion, sweet peppers, and if you feel like it, green beans, corn, peas, the kitchen sink...
Little Itlay Pasta Fazool. This is the Americanized name and preparation based the classic Italian dish Pasta e Fagioli with white cannellini beans, olive oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes, and macaroni simmered into a runny stew. In the US, don't be surprised to see Italian sausage, ground beef, and grated cheese.
New Mexico Burritos. A soft tortilla wrapped around a filling of refried beans, meat, and rice, and then you can start stylin'. Toss in some more beans, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, and tomato salsa are common.
...more to come (to be notified when new recipes and other articles come online, be sure to subscribe to my free, spam free, email newsletter).
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