About the only time you find bacon by itself is at breakfast with eggs. The rest of the time, it’s used to enhance other ingredients with its meaty, smoky goodness. There are a lot of foods that bacon pairs well with, particularly ingredients that have complimentary flavors. Bacon also works well with foods that have a fairly neutral flavor, like beans. Combine the earthiness of beans with the salty, smoky flavor of bacon, and you’re going to have a winner.
|Bacon from Harvey's Market, Union Market in D.C.|
|Dry pinto beans|
|Mirepoix, bacon and fresh rosemary|
|Adding the reduced red wine|
|Beans and bacon simmering with red wine added|
Red Wine Pinto Beans with Smoky Bacon
Adapted (just slightly) from A Good Appetite recipe by Melissa Clark, New York Times
1 pound dried pinto beans
1/2 pound smoky bacon, diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large sprigs rosemary
Salt, to taste (Clark’s recipe calls for 1 tbsp. coarse kosher salt)
2 cups dry red wine (such as pinot noir)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)
Coarsely grated Parmesan, for serving (optional)
Coarsely ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
1. Rinse pinto beans and soak them overnight or quick cook them: place beans in a large pot with enough water to cover by 3 or 4 inches (about 2 quarts of water). Bring to boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to simmer for about 45 minutes. Drain beans, reserving the cooking water for step 3 below.
2. Heat a large dutch over or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, celery, carrots, garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add beans to pot along with salt, to taste. Pour in enough or the reserved bean cooking water to just cover the beans (about 7 to 8 cups). Bring liquid to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently until beans are just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
4. While beans are simmering, heat a small saucepan or frying pan over medium heat. Add wine and simmer until it is reduced to 2/3 cup, about 20-30 minutes.
5. Remove and discard rosemary sprigs. Pour reduced wine into beans and simmer for another 10 to 20 minutes to meld flavors and thicken broth. To serve, ladle beans into bowls and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan and fresh-ground black pepper.