Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stewed Butter Beans

Beans usually are not the most desired vegetable among the younger generation, but butter beans are called butter beans for a reason. When they are cooked, they taste like butter!

Stewed Butter Beans |

Also known as lima beans, these are another one of my favorite summer vegetables that are abundant at our local Farmer's Market. I hate to be picky again, but the only way I will eat them is if I can find them fresh. Dried beans are too much effort and canned beans are for salsas!

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to do a cooking class at one of the best restaurants in Durham - Nana's. The recipe that I enjoyed learning most was one that highlighted butter beans. I couldn't wait to get home and try my own version. Unfortunately, butter beans were not in season when I got around to trying the recipe, so I had to wait until this summer to try it again. The biggest challenge was to document amounts, as the chef at Nana's did not have any sort of measuring utensil in his kitchen.

There are several elements that make this recipe delicious - bouquet garni, broth and mirepoix. Ok, I promise I am still speaking English...well sort of!

Bouquet Garni

Bouquet garni is a french term for "garnished bouquet," in other terms a bouquet of herbs. This is used to flavor sauces, soups and stews and is very easy to put together. Take string and tie it around a bunch of fresh herbs - any kinds available.

Stewed Butter Beans |


We all know what broth is, but you might be asking what mirepoix is. Another term I learned at the cooking class, that is also referred to the "Holy Trinity" or "Soffritto." Mirepoix is a combination of equal parts celery, onion and carrot. This is the base of most soups, sauces and broths. These three boring vegetables come together to create a fantastic flavor base for many recipes. For all the soups and sauces that I make, I always start with mirepoix now.

Stewed Butter Beans |
Mirepoix - equal parts chopped carrots, celery and onion.

Butter Beans

Yields: 4 cups

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bouquet garni (I used basil, thyme, oregano and bay leaves)
   mixture of fresh herbs (can use a combination of basil, chives, oregano, parsley, bay  
   leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage)
   butcher's string
4 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian version)
1 quart fresh shelled butter beans
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large sauce pot, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the chopped onion, celery and carrot and stir to coat with the butter/oil mixture. Cook this for about 5-7 minutes just until the vegetables start to become soft.

Stewed Butter Beans |

Prepare your bouquet garni while the vegetables are cooking. Tie the butcher's string around a bunch of fresh herbs.

Add the garlic to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the broth, bouquet garni and butter beans to the pot. Gently stir to combine and add salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook on low, covered for 45 minutes. Check the beans, stir and continue to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes if they are not done. Be careful not to overcook the beans as they will lose flavor and become too mushy. Once you are able to easily mash the beans with a fork, they are done.

Stewed Butter Beans | www.kettlercuisine.comStewed Butter Beans |

I like to serve my beans on top of a baked sweet potato or fresh spinach. You can leave the beans in the broth for more of a soup or drain some of the broth out. I like to reserve the broth to drink or use for other uses like cooking rice, couscous or noodles.

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