Smoky Yellow Eye Beans

2nd May, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in KosherKitchen, beans, easy, vegetarian

Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo calls these Yellow Eye beans, “A ham hock’s best friend.” He’s not wrong. This bean, with its thin skin, beautifully velvety texture and lovely toasty, almost smoky flavours, practically begs to be paired with pork. They’re also great for baked beans, and Steve says they make a great alternative to common navy beans in Senate Bean Soup. It’s a wonderful bean.

But, I wanted to do something for my vegetarian and kosher-keeping friends that would deliver some similar flavors in a meat-free way. It starts with Alejandra’s Sweet Chipotle Pickles, which are absolutely fantastic. With a jar of these, a bag of Yellow Eye beans, and a few other ingredients, magic happens. The chiles bring a sweet, smoky, spicy character to the party, and the beans, with their earthy goodness, are more than happy to play along. You can substitute Great Northern beans if you must, but it really is worth tracking down the Yellow Eyes.

Ingredients – Serves 6

  • 1 pound Yellow Eye Beans – if you can’t find them locally, Rancho Gordo will happily supply you
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 0.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 6-12 Sweet Chipotle Pickles, cut into small bits [1] – you’ll have to use some judgement with these, as some are spicier than others
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Method – Active, about an hour. Total time – 6 hours

If you don’t already have them on-hand, make the pickles, ideally at least a day before. You’ll want them around, anyway.

Rinse and sort the beans, and give them a good soak for about four hours, ensuring there’s plenty of water.

Once the beans are plump and the skins smooth, get cooking! In a soup pot, bean pot, or a 4-5qt, heavy dutch oven over a medium flame, add the olive oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, cooking until they’re aromatic and sweet, and just starting to turn golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until softened, then add the cumin, roasting in the oil until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the beans with their soaking liquid, adding water if necessary to ensure that the beans are covered by at least 1″. Bring to a boil for about 5-8 minutes, skimming the foam that forms on the surface and discarding it.

Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the beans are nearly done, about an hour [2].

Add the chiles, smoked paprika, oregano and salt, stirring gently. Simmer an additional 20-30 minutes for the flavors to meld and distribute throughout. Done!

Serve with a fabulous seasoned rice pilaf, a bowl of the Chipotle Pickles, a drizzle of fine olive oil, and some wonderful coarse sel gris sprinkled over the beans. A nice, crisp Riesling or a lighter style Pinot Noir would pair wonderfully with this. Buon appetito!

1. If you make the pickles in advance, it simplifies things on the day of cooking; the beans, then, become a simple matter of soaking, sautéing, and simmering. Besides, once you’ve tried them, you’ll never want to be without at least a jar or two.

2. The soaking and cooking times assume you’re using beans that aren’t old and hard. Beans that have been lying around for years take much longer to cook, have unsatisfying texture, and taste like cardboard. Don’t wast your time and money! Buy good beans, and use them within a year or two!

One Response

  1. The Epicure's Asylum at Flavorevolutions Says:

    [...] This pilaf is an outstanding playmate for a variety of bean recipes to make a complete meal that is tasty, filling and fun. Smoky Yellow Eye Beans are perfect! [...]