I tried this recipe again today and I wasn't so much focused on the finished traditional product as I was just getting the beans right this time. We've tried them twice, and they've still somehow come out almost crunchy. No bueno. I actually followed the package directions on the kidney bean bag (funny how that works!) and guess what? They came out lovely. The package told me to soak a one-cup bean to 3-cup water ratio for 6-8 hours or overnight. I ended up soaking them for about 18 hours since I didn't want to fuss with cooking them last night. I checked them occasionally, and while a few of them were splitting, they seemed to only be getting a tiny bit softer. But I guess that's just the way they work because right around 9:15 this morning, I drained them, rinsed them, put them back in the pot with 4 cups of water per cup of beans soaked this time, brought them to a boil, lowered the heat, put the lid on and walked away for two hours. Okay, I hovered for the first fifteen minutes or so because the residual heat was so much that with the lid on, there was still a steady boil going on even though the heat on the stove was all the way down to 2. It finally calmed down and I could move onto more immediate tasks like clearing my email inbox and showering. Somewhere around 30 minutes left I decided to season a bit (which I probably should have done at the hour mark, but oh well. Next time.) I threw in a bunch on minced dried onion, garlic powder, two beef bouillon cubes and a couple splashes of Liquid Smoke. I know my measurements were probably a little off to the amount of beans but they came out pretty decent, I think. Last minute rice and heated up the pulled pork I did in the crock pot yesterday afternoon and that was lunch! I've never "pulled" a piece of pork before and it was interesting but after a few minutes I got the hang of it, under the watchful eye of the puppy, of course, hoping I'd drop a piece on the floor for her. Next time, for the beans, I think I'm going to throw in actual chopped onions, seasonings, bell peppers and let the simmering process cook them to a perfectly soft texture and a little bit of hot sauce. See if I can't get it a little more authentic to the flavorful recipe. But at least now I know how to get the beans cooked right! No more crunchy, chewy kidney beans for us :) It's going to stay on my go-to budget recipe that's easy to prep and easy to cook.
Oh! The pulled pork. My mother-in-law, Toodie, showed me when she was visiting last time what she does to make a quick meal while you're out running errands all day-she puts 1-2 pork butts on a plate, sprinkles both sides with Lowry's Seasoning Salt, puts them in the crock-pot and pours 1-2 cans of root beer over them and lets them cook on low for 4-6 hours. Mine was 1 pork shoulder, so a little less meat, and we didn't have root beer but we did have just enough Coke and I found a few recipes that accepted that as a substitute, and also called for a tablespoon of Liquid Smoke (Toodie's method may have called for that as well but I can't remember..I should have written it down!) Somewhere around the four-hour mark I pulled it it, cut it up into a few pieces, shredded it apart with a fork and dropped it back into the crock-pot. If Toodie's feeding a huge crowd she leaves the BBQ sauce on the side but if it's just the family crowd she pours in some Sweet Baby Ray's, buys some soft rolls to toast and make sandwiches with and calls it done. Since I was going with Mexican style today I left the sauce out but of course, tasted it, and it was a teensy bit dry but when I reheated it today it was pretty good. It's so easy. Let your appliances cook for you! :)
What has everyone else been cooking lately? Share!