Red Beans Stewed in Wine Sauce
(Habichuelas Rojas Guisadas en Vino Tinto)
When a Puerto Rican thinks of “mom’s cooking,” he or she thinks of the way mother served stewed red beans with rice. As a great lover of beans, I can appreciate them cooked in almost any manner, and as a chef, I am always creating new ways of preparing these wonderful legumes. In this new dish, as with other stewed bean dishes to follow, I make use of precooked or pureed vegetables, such as squash, carrots, turnips, and sweet potatoes. I control the consistency of the sauce without altering the taste of the beans. Using yellow vegetables, I supplement the nutritional value of the beans without adding the additional starch found in the tubers.
Incorporating diced tubers, such as malanga (giant-sized taro), yautia (taro), and yuca (cassava), is a culinary custom in traditional Puerto Rican home cooking. The glutinous property of these tubers mixes with the natural stock of the beans, creating a perfect emulsifier that holds the beans together. Although the result is terrific, the naturally nutty flavor of the bean tends to become subordinated to the intense flavor of the starchy tubers.
In my new style of Puerto Rican bean cookery, I offer a method where the combined properties of the vegetables act as natural emulsifiers and sweeteners. And the sum of all these ingredients interacting and blending together renders an exquisite new way to enjoy the bean at its best.
1/4 pound banana squash
1/3 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
5 shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 cup lean diced ham
4 medium tomatoes, peeled (use the charred method to peel tomatoes)
1 cup dry red table wine
1 pound simmered red beans with stock
1/4 teaspoon pulverized rock salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Peel the banana squash and simmer in enough water to cover the squash until fully cooked. Discard water and mash the squash with a fork or blender while it is still hot. Set the puree aside.
In a preheated kettle on low heat, combine olive oil, garlic, shallots, red bell pepper, cilantro, parsley, oregano, and ham. Saute slowly, until most of the oil has been absorbed. Stir in tomatoes and squash puree and bring to a sizzle.
Stir in the wine and allow to cook down to a thick paste consistency. Slowly break down the paste and the bean stock until achieving a rich sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lower the heat, then gently fold in the beans and blend without damaging the beans. Simmer for approximately 12 minutes.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with White or Yellow Rice. This is also good alongside Avocado Salad or Avocado Salad with Chayotes.INFO: