Beans, beans, good for the heart

Kilo bag of beans

This is the first time I have made beans by myself in my own house. When I say ‘by myself’ I mean by following instructions by myself, but I thought I would share what I’ve found out. Firstly, we don’t have a pressure cooker so I used our rice cooker. I wasn’t sure whether it was possible to cook beans properly in a simple rice cooker (ours has two settings; cook or heat) but I found a YouTube video where Elaine Ribeiro uses exactly the same rice cooker that we have and it works for her!

Beans pre-sorting

First, I took two small cups (the little pot that came with the rice cooker) of beans, spread them out and removed all the small stones and bad beans. I used the beans in the photo. With higher quality (ie more expensive) beans, you won’t need to do this.

Beans before soaking

Then I put them in a pot and covered them with water so that the water was a fingerwidth higher than the beans. I put the lid on the pot and left them to soak for two hours.

Beans after soaking for two hours

The soaking resulting in them swelling to just over the water level.

I boiled the kettle and added 1.5 litres of water to the rice cooker, drained the beans into the sink and then added them to the rice cooker too. I set the cooker to the cook setting and left it be for an hour. In hindsight I should probably have stirred it more so that all the beans cooked through at the same rate.

Beans after cooking for one hour in the rice cooker

After the beans are cooked through, it’s time to add seasoning (tempero).

I fried half an onion until it was golden brown and then added a spoonful of my husband’s grandmother’s homemade seasoning (a paste made from garlic, onion, oil, salt and more salt) to the mix and fried that till it was golden brown too.

I cooked the beans in the rice cooker yesterday, then put them into a plastic pot and kept them in the fridge overnight because there wasn’t time for me to do the seasoning step straight after the cooking step. So I brought the beans to the boil using a pan on our gas cooker, but I would imagine that it would work just as well to do it all in the rice cooker.

Bring the beans to the boil and add a ladleful of beans and bean water to the frying pan with the seasoning.

Stir them for a bit, add another ladleful and then, when it’s all nicely mixed, pour the contents of the frying pan back into the pan with the beans.

We had beans with our lunch (rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots cooked all together in the rice cooker, with fish, onions and tomatoes cooked all together in a pan on the gas cooker). My husband’s verdict was that it was good but some of the beans were not cooked through properly and that the taste of the seasoning was very faint. I put the beans on for an hour only because I was following the video, but I was using black beans and not light brown beans, so that may have made a difference. I also mainly left the beans to do their thing so maybe I should have done a bit more stirring during the cooking process. For the seasoning, maybe next time I will ask for more specific and less subjective instructions than ‘scoop out a bit of seasoning on the end of the wooden spoon’ as this may help with the strength of flavours.

I’ve enjoyed learning how to cook beans and I’m really pleased that we can do it in our rice cooker – a true Godsend! As with all my cooking adventures since moving to Brazil, I need to remember that it’s all part of a long process in which I will make lots of mistakes and learn from them. It mainly all worked this time and what needed fixing, I can fix quite easily, so all in all, I hereby pronounce the cooking of the beans … a success!

This post was originally published on the 6th December of 2016 and has been transferred from my previous blog (Brazil from the outside in hosted by Blogger) after some technical difficulties with the site.

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