Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Tips for How to Thicken Beans

Beans can be a fussy lot when it comes to being too thin or too thick. Sometimes you'll end up with too much water once they're ready, sometimes they can be far too thick like a stew.
  • Remember to start with the stock and/or the minimum amount of water, adding any additional broth or water only as needed during the cooking process if the beans get too thick.
  • Be sure to let the beans simmer on very low - just a bare bubble - and let them just slow stew, stew, stew! A low and slow simmer uncovered, and the occasional stir, helps to make beans nice and creamy.
But, if in the end, the beans are ready, but the liquid is just not thick enough, then you have a couple of options on thickening that I use with all the beans I cook.
  • Remove a cup or two of the beans, mash them up and then return them to the pot and stir in.
  • You can also make a slurry of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and about a cup or so of cool water, or some of the bean liquid. If you use the bean liquid, remove it first and set it aside to cool slightly.  Whisk the cornstarch in so that it's smooth and has no lumps in it, and then stir it into the beans, allowing them to continue cooking for about 10 minutes longer.
You can even use a combination of these methods.

What is your favorite way to thicken a pot of beans?