A Rich, Smoky Pot of Beans Perfect for All Your Fall Potlucks

Chow on 09.27.12
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Photos: Jaden Hair

I had never made a pot of beans before moving to the southern state of Florida. Here, not only does the state boast influences of the Caribbean -- which they call "Floribbean" -- but move away from the coastal waters and you're in the South. The northern neighbors of Florida are Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi. A pot of beans is an American classic, and I've added a touch of miso to bring it up to the next level of smokiness and umami!

About the beans: The simple dish starts with good beans. Once a year, I order a big box of beans from Rancho Gordo in Napa, California. They simply have the very best heirloom beans! Of course, you don't have to just use those beans, you can use many different dried beans from the supermarket, like pinto, cannellini or navy beans. Bob's Red Mill also sells great quality dried beans in the supermarket.

miso beans

 The dried beans are simply soaked in water for 4-6 hours before you cook. Then, everything gets thrown into a pot or slow cooker to simmer. If you're using a slow cooker, just set it on low.  

My favorite way to enjoy beans is with lots of smokiness. You can buy smoked ham hock or turkey leg in the supermarket; look for it near the bacon section and just throw them in the pot. And then add my must-have ingredient: miso paste. It gives the pot of beans a savory, umami flavor -- just a couple of tablespoons of it will transform the dish. You won't be able to taste the miso itself, but it's a major flavor booster, intensifying the savoriness of all the other ingredients. You can use any type of miso paste - I use either Miso & Easy, which is a ready-to-use miso paste, or a low-sodium version of regular red miso.

miso beans

Pot of Beans with Smoky Miso

Servings: 10

Prep time: 10 minutes + 4-6 hour soak 

Cook time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound dried beans, soaked in water for 4-6 hours

2 stalks celery, cut into 1"

3 carrots, cut into 1"

1 smoked hock OR 1 smoked turkey leg (or both!)

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons Miso & Easy or 1 1/2 tablespoon regular miso paste

3 quarts water

Directions: Drain the beans. In a large stock pot, add in all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer for about 90 minutes. Taste, and adjust with additional Miso & Easy or red miso if needed.