A bowl of beans–with the notable exception of cassoulet–is not very sexy. But when every part of the dish (including the bowl) is homemade, the results can be pretty sublime for something so humble.
The beans were black-eyed peas, which I did not grow. I’ve used up all our dragon’s tongue beans except the ones I saved for seed, so I had to outsource this part of the meal. I like black-eyed peas a lot, not least because they cook up really nicely in the pressure-cooker without presoaking. These took about half an hour on low to get soft and yielding. I cooked them very simply using a bag of homegrown mirepoix from the freezer, homemade guanciale, herbs from the pots in the dining room, and chicken stock I made with a carcass a few days ago.
It must be said that if there’s a more profoundly enticing aroma than guanciale and mirepoix (my blend inclues fennel and leek) sweating gently in a pot I have yet to encounter it. Though fresh-baked bread does come pretty close. OK, it’s a tie. But still. A good unctuous, roasty stock is wonderful, of course, and this one had a nice herbal note resulting from the film of pesto gravy that had stuck to some of the pieces of bird. And then the croutons: a fossilized hunk of sourdough boule hacked into approximate cubes with the cleaver and browned in olive oil with garlic, Espelette pepper, and salt until browned and fragrant.
Frugality never tasted so rich. There was also wine: a 2007 Guigal Côtes du Rhône, which is mostly Syrah and Grenache. I’m a big fan of the Southern Rhône for bargain hedonism, since the well-made basic wines usually have many of the leathery, earthy qualities of their fancier siblings (without the layers, subtlety, and aging potential) at a fraction of the price. This retails for about $12, but I got these for $8 because I know a guy. At that price, it’s impossible not to utterly love a bottle like this. And it made for an even more perfect union with the lowly-luxe bowl of beans.