Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dinner With friends

I couldn't sleep last night and lay awake watching an old episode of Two Fat Ladies. The girls were cooking for an abbey of nuns in a lush green corner of Ireland. But what really caught my eye was a dish of braised fava beans -- whole with the pods. We have a yard bursting over with fava beans, and though I love the taste I dread the shelling and peeling that comes with most "broad bean" recipes. I've grilled them whole in the pod but had never seen anyone braise them whole, and had to try it. We had friends coming to dinner and I dreamed up a simple steakhouse menu to feature my front yard beans.
I stared the recipe but sautéing chopped shallot and garlic in a good quantity of olive oil. When the shallots were soft I added in the whole favas (I tried to get the strings off the pods -- I did miss a few) a 1/2 TB of sugar, salt, and the juice of half a lemon. I cooked the beans for about 20 minutes. Then I added in about a cup of hot water, a TB of chopped fresh oregano (the recipe called for dill but I didn't have any on hand and had plenty of oregano in the garden) covered the pot and allowed the beans to simmer for about an hour until the pods were very, very tender. My TV cooks served these beans cold but I mixed in a bit more oregano and brought them to the table piping hot.
After nearly an hour and half of cooking the beans I tended so lovingly as they grew looked anything but promising. They took on a grayish green color and the beans had fallen from their pods in a slump. We were all doubtful but one bite changed our minds. These braised beans are luscious and soft and I'll be making them again.
On the side of our home grown beans I cooked up two rib eyes with a mixed peppercorn crust and drizzled a red wine reduction on top. The potatoes I steamed earlier in the day were quickly pan fried in garlic and the leftover grease from cooking the bacon that topped the salad. That gave them a little crunch and a delicate smokey flavor no one could identify but everyone loved.
No steak dinner would be complete without the classic American salad. Crisp lettuce, homemade blue cheese dressing, and crunch pieces of bacon tossed on top. Hooray for the red, white and green.

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