OT - Cooking Question

1929SpanishDecember 9, 2012

One of my current favorite cookbooks (The Foods &Flavors of Haute Provence) by Georgeanne Brennan has a recipe for lamb shanks and white bean gratin. I'm a pretty good cook, and have been successful with her recipes right out of the book. However, the first time I made this one, it sucked.

Not being someone who gives up easily, I want to try it again. I think the beans were the problem last time. The recipe has you start off with dry beans simmering for a couple hours. I doesn't suggest soaking them first.

Do you ever cook with dry beans before soaking them?

This post was edited by 1929Spanish on Sun, Dec 9, 12 at 19:30

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springroz

They take FOREVER if I don't soak them overnight! Even the " quick soak"
has not been very successful!

LOVE lamb shanks!!

Nancy

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 3:24PM
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1929Spanish

Thanks Nancy. I thought it was strange this step was left out. Im going to try soaking them first.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 4:01PM
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trailrunnerbiker

I do the quick soak and have never had a problem. It is really dependent on having very fresh dry beans...if that makes sense. The older they are the more likely that no amount of soaking will improve them. I love lamb shanks too! please post a KAW pic of the dish :) c

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 4:47PM
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sara_the_brit_z6_ct

Mark Bittman of the NY Times, in "How to Cook Everything" says bring them to a boil, then leave them for two hours, and then proceed with your recipe. He claims the two hours soak after boiling as just as good as overnight soaking - and I've had great success with the method.

It's entirely possible as trailrunner says, that the beans are too old. Sometimes no amount of cooking with get them to soften up.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 5:18PM
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1929Spanish

The beans might have been too old. I think they were there before we moved out during construction. I'm going to try new beans and a quick soak.

This recipe takes time, but a lot of it is hands-off, making it the perfect dinner for our "East Coast New Years" Party. By "East Coast" I mean "you're free to leave before midnight". ;p

I'm going to work it up tomorrow since the Mr isn't home for dinner tonight.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 7:29PM
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suzanne_sl

Just catching up, but I have a suggestion. I also use the quick soak, but there is another potential issue: the hardness of your water. Way back when, I used faucet water to cook beans and they were crunchy to the end. Somewhere I ran across the hard water question, which was a possibility as our tap water is quite hard. Now I use bottled water to cook beans (another reason I don't soak overnight and drain). It doesn't have to be distilled water, just regular bottled water for drinking. Worth a try.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 9:13PM
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laughablemoments

Salt in the water can keep beans from softening, too. We had a water softener where we used to live, and if I'm remembering right, beans were a lot trickier to cook there than they are here. If the recipe calls for salt, wait until the beans are soft before putting it in.

Hope the next time will go better for you. We'll be butchering our lambs soon, and then I'm going to need recipes for how to cook them, since I've never cooked lamb.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 9:49PM
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1929Spanish

Wow these are all good ideas. Unfortunately I'm on a business trip right now and the aforementioned lamb shanks landed in the freezer for another day. We have soft water, but I use filtered for cooking.

I get home Friday and host a dinner party on Saturday, but I'm not going to try this again. First time I tried this one was for my mom and it sucked!

Thanks for asking and I promise to check back in.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 10:12PM
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CEFreeman

God, I hate beans.
Just in case you wondered.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 10:31PM
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1929Spanish

@CF. I used to as well. Now I cook with them often, but I cheat and used canned. I currently hate dry beans.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 10:53PM
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CEFreeman

I can eat them if you mush them into hummus. Mushrooms, too. But the texture is abhorrent to me.

You are a brave soul to keep trying.
Good luck with this interesting dish.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:00PM
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mateo21

I think it might help to specify what was exactly wrong the first time. And the second time, what was wrong with the beans? Texture? Flavor?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:09PM
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deedles

I once cooked old beans for 4 days in a crock pot. No luck. Old beans are good for compost.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:15PM
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CEFreeman

I can eat them if you mush them into hummus. Mushrooms, too. But the texture is abhorrent to me.

You are a brave soul to keep trying.
Good luck with this interesting dish.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 5:29PM
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rosylady

I never soak my beans anymore because I buy them bulk from a really popular market and they are really fresh.

After years of cooking beans I have finally accepted that they have a better texture if cooked in the crock pot. I desperately want them to be better in Le Creuset, but they're not. I can cook them all day in the crock pot and they are creamy and beautiful, never overcooked.

I second what laughable said about salt. Don't add it until the end. This is particularly true with older beans.

Unlike CEFreeman, I adore beans.

I like Reese's Peanut Butter cups too...

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 7:11PM
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