“‘You want eat?’ Mord asked, glowering. He had a plate of boiled beans in one thick, stub-fingered hand. Tyrion Lannister was starved, but he refused to let this brute see him cringe. ‘A leg of lamb would be pleasant,’ he said, from the heap of soiled straw in the corner of his cell. ‘Perhaps a dish of peas and onions, some fresh baked bread with butter, and a flagon of mulled wine to wash it down. Or beer, if that’s easier. I try not to be overly particular.'” -A Game of Thrones
Yes, I know. It’s been MONTHS since my last recipes, and now I show up with… beans? I’ve felt my own absence from the blogs keenly, and was delighted to get back into the kitchen this week. With a working oven, and a fully charged camera, I feel suddenly like I can make ALL of the things; As I type this, I have two new recipes in the oven. In the meantime…
The medieval beans are appropriately bland, and a good fit for the scene from the book. The onion flavor is there, and hugely amped up because the beans absorbed the oniony goodness during the boiling process. The garlic, while wonderful, isn’t quite enough to combat the almost overpowering onion. I soaked my beans overnight, but wait as I might, they never “bersten”, so I boiled them. The boiling wasn’t in the historical recipe, but because that’s what they’re supposed to be in the book, I felt this was a good compromise. I sprinkled a little salt over top; the poudre douce was interesting, but didn’t do the dish any favors. I had hoped to make a kind of bean mash out of the ingredients, then sort of fry them like patties, but the mixture was too wet to hold together. Still, with some binder ingredients, that might be a neat way to try it in the future.
The modern beans are universally much easier to like. Boiling them in soda makes them sweet, since they soak up all the flavor and sugars of the rootbeer. That sweetness contrasts really nicely with the smoky, saltiness of the bacon. The parsley is just there for show, but adds little pops of green color to the bowl. It’s an earthy, dense side dish, ideal alongside a big piece of meat. I’d probably like a little more sauce with this version- not quite like Boston baked beans, but it’s a tad dry as is. Next time, I’d add some crushed tomatoes, a little molasses, and stir until I was happy with it.
Overall, I found the medieval recipe more authentic to the scene in the book, but the modern version definitely tastier.
Medieval Boiled (and Fried!) Beans
Benes yfryed. Take benes and seeþ hem almost til þey bersten. Take and wryng out þe water clene. Do þerto oynouns ysode and ymynced, and garlec þerwith; frye hem in oile oþer in grece, & do þereto powdour douce, & serue it forth. –The Form of Curye, 14th century Cook’s note: I used a type of locally grown dry bean for this, but can’t for the life of me remember what variety it was. I’d wager that pretty much any kind of dry bean would work for this recipe. I love using roasted garlic, but regular garlic is fine. INGREDIENTS:
- 1 1/2 cups dry beans
- 1/2 onion, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves roasted garlic (see below)
- olive oil
- Powder douce or salt
Soak the beans overnight, or at least 8 hours, until they look like they are starting to burst. Boil the beans and the minced onion in a medium saucepot. Add garlic, then fry them in oil or grease. Sprinkle with a little poudre douce, and serve! To roast Garlic: Preheat oven to 400F. Slice the tops off an entire head of garlic, and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in tin foil and roast for around 35 minutes, or until the garlic starts to feel soft. Remove and allow to cool. You should be able to squeeze the cloves out of their papery shell, or fish them out with a fork. Nibble on a few, savor them over toast, and store the rest in the fridge, covered with olive oil. You’re welcome. :)
Modern Boiled Beans
- 3 cups root beer (approximately 20 oz.)
- 1 1/2 cups dry white beans
- 3 cups water, plus more as needed
- 3+ strips bacon, fried and crumbled/chopped
- 2 Tbs. chopped parsley
Soak beans overnight in water or 8 hours, until they look softer and are starting to burst open. Rinse them and put in a pot along with the rootbeer and water. Rinse well and put in a stock pot together with rootbeer and water. Boil for 1 hour, then turn down to a simmer for another 30 minutes. If at any point during this process, it seems like there’s not enough liquid, add more water. After the time is up, the beans are soft, and the level of water is mostly depleted, turn down the temperature further and add the bacon and parsley. Stir to combine, then remove from heat and serve hot.