Tag Archives: Beans


A bowl of chili with sour cream and cilantro.Chili is one of the great North American dishes, and one that is especially relevant and useful in modern life, as it is a hearty one-pot meal that can be put together and left to cook in a crock pot or low oven for several hours.

I’ll argue that the only two essential ingredients in chili are meat and beans.  When I was growing up that meat was always, always ground beef, though I have to say I really like using shredded or cubed braised beef like brisket or chuck.  For beans you are not beholden to the canned red kidney beans of my childhood: any and all pulses are great.  These days my kitchen always has dried pinto and … Continue reading.

Baked Beans

A lil' pot of baked beansThere is something miraculous about baked beans, or “brown beans,” as I know them.  You take legumes that usually disintegrate when overcooked, and by adding a special blend of ingredients, you can suddenly stew them almost indefinitely without compromising their shape and texture.  There are in fact three magic ingredients in this potion:

  • acids, usually in the form of tomato, mustard, or vinegar, “make the cell-wall hemicelluloses [in the beans] more stable and less dissolvable”;[1]
  • sugar, in the form of molasses, maple syrup or, um, sugar, “helps reinforce cell-wall structure and slows the swelling of the starch granules”;[2]
  • calcium, usually in the form of molasses and brown sugar, “cross-links and reinforces cell-wall pectins”.[3]

Since these ingredients prevent … Continue reading.