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Good morning, folks.
It’s time once again to take a deep dive in to the world of all things gravy.
Last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, was a busy one in the right household. Brother DJ Taj had his oldest son along with his son’s wife and brood of youngsters come by for a visit on the days before Memorial Day and since it was Memorial Day thereafter, the situation dictated additional grillage on the part of yours truly.
That’s correct. The grill was fired up on Sunday AND Monday.
I don’t fuck around when it comes to a national grilling holiday.
The main dishes for these grilling sessions should look pretty familiar to most of yez. On Sunday we did some standard grilled chicken that I had in a brine since the day before and then finished with some barbecue sauce
and we also grilled, via request, some carne asada.
This should indeed look familiar to you since I’ve already posted about this a couple of times.
Remember this old beauty?
That was from Father’s Day of 2015.
We found a new carneceria that had the carne asada all prepared and only begging for a hot charcoal fire. So we took the easy way out.
Let’s take a gander at that sexy ass banner photo again to bring us to today’s lesson.
Clockwise that’s our baked beans, grilled chicken, Mexican rice and a carne asada burrito.
How do we really know what’s in that burrito? I could be fucking with you and it could be filled with roadkill, or dead hooker bits or any fucking thing!
Allow me to retort.
That’s a goddamn carne asada burrito. You will notice my previously mentioned burrito preferences are on full display. There ain’t no rice in there. There ain’t no beans in there. Ain’t no goddamn lettuce or guac or anything veggie related in there. There’s meat, a little queso and some of my chili tepin.
It was fucking beautiful.
So what is the lesson today since we’ve already featured every main food item that was cooked over last weekend on previous episodes of Sunday Gravy?
The side dishes.
Any knucklehead can grill some meats and slap down some store bought sides as an accompaniment but what really separates the food gurus and culinary goddamn all-stars from the casual grilling laypersons is how you elevate the rest of your meal.
A simple way to get started on this would be to include some fresh seasonal fruits or vegetables to your meal.
In California, Memorial Day is when two of our most important and more delicious agricultural items are fully in season.
California strawberries and sweet red cherries. So very fucking tasty.
Simply have a dish set out with some of these and your guests are already paying some damn attention. Like, “Oh shit! We’re in for some deliciousness today!”
Hell yes you are.
We’ve spoken before about the little things that can encompass a meal. The small details. I’ve talked to you about freshly toasting and grinding your spices which makes an enormous difference in the final taste.
I really don’t have to beat the whole “freshly ground black pepper” dead horse into the ground again do I?
Seriously, buy one of these little fuckers.
That’s my pepper grinder and some black peppercorns. If you have a mercado nearby you can get a bag of these things for about .79 cents.
Every. Fucking. Chance you have.
Let’s get to today’s side dishes one at a time. The first one is a keeper and needs to go in your regular side dish repertoire.
1 cup of long grain rice. I used some jasmine rice since I still had some on hand.
1 small onion minced.
3 cloves of garlic minced.
4 ounces of tomato sauce.
1 3/4 cups of chicken stock.
1 teaspoon of cumin – freshly toasted and ground if you can.
1 teaspoon of chili powder.
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric – this gives the rice a really nice color and is cheaper than saffron.
1 tablespoon of oil – whatever you have on hand. Olive oil is nice here.
Some salt and pepper to taste.
Or in visual form:
Get out a saucepan that has a fitted lid, add in the cooking oil and get it to a medium heat, then add in the onion and the rice.
Toast the rice along with the onion for about 5 minutes or so. We want the rice to get a little golden color. You should also begin to just smell the rice getting toasty. Next add in the garlic and the spices and give a stir.
The rice will turn a sexy color and the spices and garlic will immediately impart a tantalizing olfactory goodness to the proceedings.
After just a minute or so add the tomato sauce and the chicken stock to the pot.
Get the pot to a nice simmer, cover with the lid, reduce the heat to LOW and let this shit hang out and do it’s damn thing for 20 minutes. Don’t peek and don’t consider stirring. Just let it work.
After 20 minutes?
If you’re not a huge fan of Mexican rice then I say maybe you just haven’t had it prepared properly. Most restaurants have the rice as a filler and don’t always give a ton of love to it. When it’s done right?
Again, it will look something like this.
You will now never need another recipe for Mexican rice. And you ain’t gonna buy that Rice-a-roni Spanish rice shit again are you?
Good for you.
Now we need to have a discussion about that second side dish there.
The Boston baked beans.
Where to fucking start?
Let’s go with the recipe first and address the particulars after.
First of all this is another Instant Pot recipe so consider that as you read on.
1 pound of navy beans, cleaned, sorted through and rinsed.
3 to 4 cups of water for soaking the beans.
1 tablespoon of salt.
5-7 pieces of bacon, chopped into lardons.
1 onion minced.
More water – 3 to 4 cups of fresh water – for cooking.
1/2 cup of molasses.
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar.
1/4 cup of ketchup.
Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
1 1/2 teaspoons of dry ground mustard.
1 teaspoon of salt.
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
Put the rinsed and sorted beans into a pot or a bowl and cover with some water. Enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches. Soak the beans for about 3 hours.
For your future consideration there is a big goddamn recipe step missing here!
Using the saute function on the Instant Pot, add in the bacon and onions
and cook for a few minutes in the Instant Pot.
These items will again smell extra fucking delightful while they saute.
Following along with the original recipe, next we add in the drained beans, and the rest of the ingredients. Spooning the molasses over all.
Give everything a stir. Lock the lid on your Instant Pot, set the mode to “pressure cook” select the “high” setting, set the timer for 75 minutes and select the “keep warm” function. After the pot pressurizes and the beans cook for the allotted time, I let the steam “natural release” for 15 minutes then did the quick pressure release. When the pot depressurized I removed the lid and observed…
Hey, check that shit out! They smell fantastic! Let’s give a taste.
What the fuck is that? These bastards are like chewing on molasses and bacon flavored bullets. The fuck?
If you are thinking to yourself, “I think I’ve seen those beans somewhere before.” You are indeed correct Kemosabe!
These were a side dish just a couple of weeks ago when we made Instant Pot ribs.
I guess we could call these as they were. Set decoration. Don’t get me wrong, the flavor was spectacular but holy fuck were those some hard ass beans.
After I took the above photo and ate a few forkfuls of the beans I returned them to the Instant Pot, set them on the saute function and proceeded to cook them for…
Four more fucking hours.
Four. Fucking. Hours!
I then froze the entire pot of beans for future use.
And to be totally honest, they never reached proper cooked bean texture. Even in the photo from just last weekend
AFTER cooking for the extra 4 goddamn hours, freezing and re-heating.
They were better but the beans were just not “right” I suppose you could say.
Let’s research this properly shall we?
According to the website Seriouseats, we encountered the primary issue early in the bean preparation.
Any guesses when that happened?
If you guessed this stage,
Then you are correct!
Let’s hear the folks at Seriouseats describe the issue in far more technical yet less “F-bomby” fashion.
“The thing with molasses, though, is that it significantly slows down the rate at which beans soften during cooking. First, the slightly acidic pH of molasses, makes the pectins and hemicellulose in the beans’ cell walls more stable and less prone to dissolving; second, the sugar in the molasses strengthens the beans’ cell walls and slows down the rate at which their starch absorbs water; and, finally, the calcium in molasses steps in to further strengthen the beans’ cell walls.”
All I had to do was cook the navy beans until tender, then add them to the rest of the ingredients in the Instant Pot and then cook everything for, I’m gonna say 20-30 minutes would do the trick. I will indeed make these again using the modified recipe because the flavor of these beans was spot-fucking-on.
Have you seen those Boston Baked Bean recipes that say to cook the beans on a LOW heat in your oven for hours and hours? Yep. I read one recipe that said to cook them in a 250 degree oven OVERNIGHT!
Well, we can improvise on that next time.
See? I always share the successes with the failures. How else are we going to improve without abject failure?*
* please note this statement does not apply to the Cleveland Browns.
Now, didn’t I say I grilled on two days last weekend?
I did indeed.
Monday featured a couple of Sunday Gravy recent hits including the aforementioned Instant Pot ribs!
That I quickly pressure cooked in the Instant Pot thusly.
I had the distinct pleasure of cooking for brother wrongest right and our very own Low Commander on Memorial Day so he had the opportunity to try a couple of featured items.
We also had this!
Some grilled corn, seasoned with garlic, cayenne, salt, pepper, butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese cooked over a charcoal fire. The hot dog is a grilled Nathan’s that is topped with some of my Instant Pot Texas chili
that was featured in this post.
There you go.
Since we grilled several previously featured items I felt today would be a good time to address the often overlooked yet still critical player of the culinary world, the side dishes.
The rice is a goddamn keeper and those beans WILL BE! Oh yes they will.
Thanks as always for reading kind folks. It’s appreciated.
Remember to always elevate your dishes whenever possible. Don’t take the shortcut and the drive to greatness will be within your grasp.
I learned that shit on Kung Fu!
See you next week when we return to our standard non-Instant Pot regular programming.