The Ask The Chef segment was a small one today. Chef Eric Veney from Muriel’s carved out some time from the newly-reopened restaurant to help us do some better cooking at home. That seems self-defeating but all these chefs have been very generous with their time and their tips.
Like a lot of the chefs at first-class restaurants, if left to their own devices, it seems they gravitate to comfort food and simple dishes. Chef Veney talked about Bolgnese, and of smoking things on the grill. I am always being teased here about liking my same comfort food, but it seems I am not alone. It surprises me how many of these guys always come back to the same kinds of things.
We deviated from the usual conversation today, because I asked him to troubleshoot a failed cooking project of mine from the weekend. I asked Eric what I was doing wrong with the white beans I made a few days ago.
They never did get soft enough to blend into the liquid. By this I don't mean soupy. Both Tom and I agree we prefer definition to any bean in a pot, but these were just barely soft after hours of cooking. Eric mentioned something we hadn’t heard yet about putting salt in a pot at the end, because in the case of beans, salt hardens the shells. We decided these just might be old beans. The chef is a fan of butter beans (who isn’t?)
We got on the subject of beans because he suggested a red beans and rice salad in a vinaigrette dressing for summer, because it’s too hot for red beans in their traditional form.
Here’s the recipe:
1 can red beans or black beans or pinto beans
2 cups rice
1 stalk of celery
I half red bell pepper
¼ purple onion
½ cup red wine vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil
Juice of a half lemon or lime
Chop all vegetables and cook rice.
Rinse beans and add to the cooled rice that has been rinsed very well.
Add all vegetables .
Mix liquid ingredients well and toss the salad gently.
Add salt and pepper and any other seasonings you prefer.
Garnish with fresh parsley (optional).