- Bean [imitating foreign language].
- [Man] Meow-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow.
- Beans b-b-b-beans. [hip-hop air-horn sounding]
Hey guys, it's Carla,
I'm here in the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen,
and I'm going to make the perfect pot of beans.
Beans are one of those things
that I get questions about all the time,
"how do you make them tender?"
"How do you make them taste good?"
"How do you make them not fart-y?"
"How do you make them not fall apart?"
"I want them to fall apart!"
"When do I put them in soup?"
"When do I do them on their own?"
So many bean questions, but for me,
knowing how to cook just the perfect pot of beans
is one of those, um, things that once you know the technique
you will make beans the right way for the rest of your life.
Patch Troffer, the chef at Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, made the most incredible beans
that my then-vegetarian son, not vegetarian anymore,
ate beans like I'd never seen the kid eat beans before,
and Patch shared his method with me,
which really synthesized a ton of things.
First thing, buy the good bean.
These are butter beans, also known as baby limas.
The method that I'm showing you
will work with really any bean.
Gigante beans, corona beans,
would be a really good choice in this preparation.
The amount of time since they were a fresh bean
to when you're buying them as a dried bean
is that measure of freshness, and it does really matter.
A bean that's been dried for many years
sitting in some dusty place, in a dusty old supermarket,
is gonna take a lot longer to cook
and is not gonna have as much flavor
as a freshly dried bean.
Once you've done that, you have to soak your beans.
Sorry, but it's true.
The next-best thing to do is to bring the beans
up to a boil, cover them in the cold water,
bring 'em up to a boil, put a lid over them,
and let them sit for one hour.
That sort of mimics what happens in the overnight soak,
but the overnight soak is better.
So you choose, how do you wanna be?
You wanna be good, or you wanna be great?
Cold water, right outta the tap, friends.
And I'm gonna do a generous amount,
because this is also gonna be my cooking liquid.
That's another question people ask all the time,
"do I drain the beans, if you cook it in the water
"that you soak the beans in, isn't that why you get gas?"
I don't know why you would get gas,
but it's not because of the bean-soaking liquid.
So these, we've soaked overnight, obviously.
Yesterday was Sunday, so...
You did this at your house?
- [Denise] Yes.
- Denise did this at her house.
That's real dedication right there.
But look at the difference.
Un-soaked, see how little they are?
Same bean, much plumper, it's fully hydrated,
it's gonna help it soften.
The basic secrets to making beans are these three things:
Salt, fat, and time.
That's really everything.
If you have salt, fat, and time,
you have everything you need
to make an incredible pot of beans.
First thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna add some salt.
A lot of salt, beans can take a lot of salt,
kinda like potatoes, eggs, rice, other things
that are very basic that people are very confused about.
And salting the water is a little bit
like salting the water for pasta,
it means that the bean is gonna get seasoned.
Heat, medium-high to high,
because I wanna bring this up to a boil.
As it's coming to a boil, I'm gonna skim off any foamy stuff
that comes to the top, totally normal.
Any time you see that foam rising to the surface,
that's just impurities, it could be little bits of protein,
it could be other pieces of impurities
that are breaking free and rising to the top,
and I don't really want them to be there the whole time
which is why I will skim.
The temperature is gonna go very low.
I want the beans to simmer incredibly gently.
The more they agitate, the more likely they are to get...
Smashed up against each other, they will cook unevenly,
their flesh will break through their skin,
the cooking liquid will get cloudy,
and so once this has come up to a simmer,
lowering the heat and going...
Really as gentle as you can afford to go.
You can put as much or as little garlic as you want.
I'm gonna smash and peel the garlic,
and then it's just gonna like, be in there.
The other thing that Patch taught me
when I emailed him and begged him to tell me
what the secret of his secret pot of beans was,
he's salting it every step of the way, that was one thing.
The other thing was he talked about the amount of fat
that the man puts into the cooking liquid,
and he said an inch of a fat cap on top.
He uses whatever good fat he's got,
so olive oil, you want something that tastes good, right?
Because if you're using that's much,
it's really becoming a flavoring agent of your bean,
and then it's just gonna make the broth
that you get at the end so much more incredible.
But then he was like, whatever rendered fat
you happen to have lying around.
And for someone who is literally hoarding little jars
of rendered fat all throughout my refrigerator,
I mean, you just couldn't tell somebody better news.
So in the optional category, we have garlic, lemon.
Patch was like, "oh, you know,
"when you have a charred lemon lying around,
"just throw that in."
I was like, "guess what I never have,
"a charred lemon lying around,"
but we're gonna make a charred lemon.
You could also just throw a whole lemon in,
you could throw some lemon peel,
and then herbs, fresh herbs, dry herbs, and spices.
He likes coriander, fennel and beans
is really great together, you don't have to add those.
I have oregano and mint today, so I'm gonna put those in.
He said if you don't have...
If you happen to have some confit garlic,
you could use that instead of the raw garlic,
but the raw garlic was totally fine,
and then really whatever herbs you have.
I mean, rosemary, thyme is great with beans,
sage, but a little bit goes a long way,
and then these are more like in the...
Oregano's kind of in the more oily, hearty herb category,
and the mint is definitely in the fresh.
I'm not gonna chop them up or do anything,
I'm just gonna put the whole sprigs in,
and then he also recommended
as part of his bean cookery practice
adding the herbs a couple different times
during the cooking, so you get this like,
long-cooked herb flavor, then you get some right at the end.
Let's see if we have foam.
Oh yeah, it's foamy now.
I now have turned the really annoying jingle
for "cheese, glorious cheese"
into "beans, glorious beans" in my head, so sorry.
All right, so we have achieved a simmer,
we've also achieved a good amount of foam,
so I'm gonna manage both of those situations.
Lowering the heat and just skimming this off.
It smells bean-y in a great way.
So now that this is simmering,
I'm gonna char this lemon.
Again, extra, but like, why not?
And you don't really have to do anything, just let them go.
And I'm going to add the oregano,
and again, whatever herb you wanna use is fine,
as long as you like the flavor of it, and this is mint.
So some of the mint leaves and the oregano leaves
are gonna break free and become one
with the other bean family, and whichever ones don't,
you can just pull the sprigs out at the end
if you wanna be more controlled about it.
Now adding two different kinds of poultry fat.
Obviously you could make this vegetarian,
just use all olive oil.
And then to get that really generous fat cap
that Patch talked about,
I need to supplement with some olive oil.
Okay, so when you get a can of beans, you know,
you don't really use that liquid.
Like nine times out of ten,
you are not messing with that canned bean liquid.
It's like, very thick, and kinda gunky,
but when you make your own beans,
this liquid is like magic sauce,
and when you finish your beans,
you might even have bean liquid,
and don't throw that away, because then you use it
for braises and for making other pots of beans.
Salt, more, again, salting as we go.
If you're using, this is Diamond,
if you use Morton's, like, use half the amount
that you see me just throwing about with abandon.
Everyone who hates black pepper
just went to a makeup tutorial.
They're done, [laughs] they're outta here.
All right, these smell very different than they did
when they were fresh, droppin' 'em in.
So this is a really exquisite situation
that's going to cook for as long as it takes.
Way that Patch described it
is that for the most of the bean cooking time,
you will feel like nothing is happening,
and that they will never be tender,
and they will never be creamy,
and they will never be done,
and then a magic moment will come when they are perfect,
and it's worth the wait every single time.
Managing the temperature,
and if the water seems like it's gotten too low,
that like, the beans don't have room to move around
without approaching the surface,
then just add more water.
So in the meantime, we're gonna make some toppings.
Now I'm gonna make an aioli.
An aioli is a homemade mayonnaise,
it's an emulsified sauce where you use an egg yolk,
and some garlic, and olive oil to make a mayonnaise.
I just need the yolk.
Is this tiny bowl big enough?
I think it's gonna happen, yeah.
Save your whites for making souffle or whatever.
Big pinch of salt.
Here's our garlic.
As if there wasn't enough garlic,
you need the flavor of the raw garlic,
you know what I mean?
Sometimes aiolis have...
Doesn't this one have lemon juice?
No, splash of water.
So the water's just gonna help with the emulsifying.
Sometimes aiolis have lemon juice, sometimes they have...
Mustard, those are all good choices.
You actually need a certain amount of available liquid
for the fat to bind to, so sometimes people will put
their lemon right in the beginning.
The only trick with making aioli
if you haven't done it before,
is that recipes are gonna say add the oil drop by drop
at first, and I know it sounds like an exaggeration,
but you really have to go drop by drop.
This is something you could make in a blender,
but every time I make it in a blender,
I screw it up, so I always do 'em by hand.
I'm also comfortable making aiolis,
so maybe I went a little bit faster than drop by drop.
So the beginning stage is important,
because that's when you're like, establishing the emulsion,
and establishing the emulsion is basically the fat...
Particles and the liquid particles being like,
"okay, fine, I will bind to you, whatever."
And then once they've all decided that they are going to be
in that chemical embrace, then everybody else who joins
is like "oh, this is already an emulsion party,
"I can just like, jump into the situation,"
so then you can go a little bit faster.
It's creamy, it's not greasy or shiny,
and I'm not seeing like, individual slick of oil.
But if your emulsion breaks, which would be so funny
if mine does, you can do it a couple different ways.
You can start over with a little bit of water
and like, a dab of mustard if you're fairly comfortable,
or you can start over with a fresh egg yolk
and whisk the broken mixture into that egg yolk
as though you were adding the oil from the beginning.
All right, aioli is done, I'm gonna keep that cold,
that's gonna get spooned in at the end.
Let's check our beans, taste the liquid and stuff.
Beans are not done, they're clackin' around,
but I wanna taste the liquid.
'Cause if it's under-salted now,
it's under-salted forever.
It's like broth.
Bean tea, drink up, that is delicious!
Okay, I love it.
All right, now I'm gonna make breadcrumbs, because why not?
You would have stale bread lying around
in your little cabin in the woods.
I'm just gonna tear it into kinda big-ish pieces.
And then I'm gonna throw it in the food processor.
So again, you don't have to make breadcrumbs
if you wanna make beans.
All you need is the fat, and the salt,
and the beans, and the water, and the time, T-I-M-E.
Large skillet, lotta different ways to make breadcrumbs,
this is just one of them.
Another way would be to maybe toss your bread with oil
and put it in the oven, but I'm gonna do it this way.
Big pan, medium-high heat.
When the oil's hot, breadcrumbs are going in.
While we're here, we can behold our beans.
They're beautiful, so shiny.
All right, oil is shimmering.
Yeah, I think that was enough fat.
These are gonna be good.
So I'm just cooking them, I'm making sure
that they all absorb some of the oil,
until they get kinda toasty brown and crisp.
Why am I toasting breadcrumbs for beans?
Texture is the answer.
Just a lil' crunch.
Bean time USA!
It smells amazing, you can see what has happened.
The broth is still pretty clear,
it smells very lemony, it smells very herby.
The beans themselves are really very intact, see?
A beautiful job of not over-stimulating them.
Just another trick I read...
That when the bean skin like, curls back like that,
that that's how you know they're done.
I don't think that's true, but it is cool.
They're totally creamy all the way through,
there isn't like, a mushy part on the outside,
and then a tender part in the middle,
they cooked very, very evenly.
I wanna try the liquid.
Do you like my spoon?
Could it be any bigger?
There's a little bit of...
You taste that, like, a little bit from the charred lemon,
like a little bit of bitterness,
and if you just recall or remember,
just keep in mind that salt, sweet, salt, bitter
are those four flavors that you wanna have in balance.
Another thing that is gonna make these extra delicious
is a nice glug of vinegar, which I really love,
especially with beans.
So I'm gonna add that in, and this is great with any...
Like, lentils are so great if you finish them with vinegar.
I'm really thinking of this as almost like we made a braise
of the bean, and the beans have been braising
in this liquid, and to really season the liquid itself.
Jeremy Fox is the one who told me
that if the broth tastes good, the beans will taste good,
and I think those are words to live by.
So just a couple glugs, this is sherry vinegar.
You could use red wine, you could use white wine.
But that's really going to make these even more delicious.
I wouldn't add it super early in the cook time,
because I don't want like, cooked vinegar flavor.
And then the other thing I'm gonna do here
at the last minute is add more of the same herbs
that I used before, the mint...
And the oregano.
Really is gonna infuse into the cooking liquid like tea.
And I know it seems crazy, but they need more salt.
So as you recall, we also have aioli,
and we have quite unevenly toasted breadcrumbs as well,
so really get yourself excited about that.
This is the kind of thing that I would add
like, a head of torn kale, or Swiss chard, or escarole
at the end and just let it wilt in there,
and then all of the sudden you have a beans and greens soup.
These things that you think might be beans
are actually whole cloves of garlic, very delicious.
All right, got my aioli.
Who wants to go on first?
I'm gonna breadcrumb.
No, I'm gonna aioli.
Gonna breadcrumb, [laughs] gonna aioli.
So the idea with the aioli is that as you eat,
the aioli is gonna infuse into the liquid
in a very delicious way,
so you'll get that fresh garlic flavor,
and then the breadcrumbs are just texture, fantastic.
Mm, now I'm kind of into how messed up
and different textures they are.
Little pepper, I love pepper.
This I would happily eat for dinner.
Mm, [chuckles] just love to look at it.
Droplets, there's crunchies, there's creamy beans,
there's aioli, it looks really good.
So perfect pot of beans, once again, from the top,
salt, fat, and time, buy a good bean, treat it very nicely.
I'm just gonna have a bite.
Get outta here.
This is the best.
Stop, it's too good, it's really too good.
I recommend everybody just make a perfect pot of beans.
I could not be happier right now, I'm so pleased.
Could everybody please leave so I can eat my beans?
No really, leave. [laughs]