‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’
Chemist in the kitchen
Wishing I would’ve taken Chemistry in high school, the mad scientist slash chemist buried back then by fears of failure blossoms years later into the courage to conquer. What’s at stake in the kitchen but a few ingredients? The payoff is the possibility of success, discovery and even pioneering.
Soaked beans are a generational tradition on both sides of my family. I decided to put this method to the test. Conducting a side-by-side experiment, the left burner simmered a pot of 8-hour soaked beans and the right burner bubbled away with unsoaked ones. After waiting 1 1/2 hours to blind taste test them, I was pretty surprised to find the difference was null.
Not sure what all the soaking fuss has been all these years but grateful I needed a chemistry fix. Dad, were he still with us, would say, “that’s a revelation”. He especially loves navy beans slow simmered with ham hocks. This dish instantly brings him to mind. It’s for us kids who forget to submerge the beans the night before.
You may also enjoy Lentil Citrus Salad with Pork Chops.
Recipe: Navy Beans with Bacon
Active Time: __ Minutes | Total Time: 2 Hours | Yield: 8 Servings
1 lb dry navy beans, cleaned and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb bacon, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 15-oz can whole tomatoes, crushed in small pieces
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Special Equipment – large pot, large skillet
1 Combine beans, bay leaf and salt in a large pot with 8 cups water and bring to boil. Skim off foam and reduce heat, simmering uncovered until tender but barely firm, about 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally.
2 Meanwhile, brown the bacon in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft and slightly golden on the edges.
3 Add tomatoes, drained beans, and thyme. Simmer for 15-30 minutes until flavors are well married and beans are tender.
This dish could also be made by using 3-4 cans of beans. Take care to not over cook the beans with the bacon and tomatoes as they will already be cooked through.
Serve with burgers, Sloppy Joes, pork chops, baked chicken, steak or gilled hot dogs.
For Bean and Bacon Soup, add some of the bean liquid and chicken stock to taste and desired consistency.
- Exchange canned for fresh tomatoes when in season.
Inspiration – Jacque Pepin
Cook with Sauces
Navy Beans and Bacon
Written by Helen Horton
Recipe Tester for The Washington Post
Photography and Styling by Helen Horton
Updated: March 17, 2014