Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Food Desert Project - Cider Beans Rule!


Summer is here...a time for picnics, barbecues and outdoor eating.  It's a perfect time to make some home-cooked crock-pot beans.  I don't ordinarily advocate adding sugar to foods to make them palatable, but these beans are so good for you that a bit of added sweetness won't hurt.

The original recipe, found on the Splendid Table website, featured molasses, salt pork, and two whole onions buried in the beans as they slow-cooked.  I wasn't sure about the availability of blackstrap molasses in the food desert (if you've got it, by all means use it - it's rich in iron and calcium,) so I substituted a smaller amount of brown sugar.  I also thought I'd substitute regular deli ham for the salt pork and omit the salt for a lower fat, lower sodium version; I thought this worked quite well.

1 cup dried beans (I used blackeye peas because I had them on hand, but I think softer beans like pintos might do better)
2 cups water
1 12 oz bottle hard cider
2 tbsp minced dried onion
3 slices deli ham
2 tbsp prepared mustard (any type except yellow or horseradish)
1/4 cup brown sugar

001Soak the beans overnight in double the volume of water. Drain and rinse the beans, and put them in a crock-pot with the minced onion and the cider.  Allow to cook on high for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to keep the beans submerged (alternately, start them on the stovetop and allow to simmer for 1/2 hour before putting them in the crock-pot.)

Mince the ham, and add it to the pot along with the remaining ingredients - cook for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.  Serves 4.  Nutrition information*

*Please note: Some substitutions were made for nutritional analyisis that may negatively affect its accuracy; for instance, as nutrition information is not available for hard cider, I substituted the nutritional information for cider vinegar, which is closer to hard cider in composition than apple juice.

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