Don't Spill the Beans

I'm your typical New Yorker; poor and looking to cook at home. I would have my personal chef do it, but I don't have one. Anyway, I do have a Farmshare that I signed up for that delivers straight to my dead end job. So, I end up with really weird ingredients every Thursday and no clue what to do with them. That's kind of how I ended up with a brown paper bag full of black beans.

"It'll be easy," they said. "Just soak them in water overnight and then cook them," they said. Well, I did that, and let me tell you, these beans were like an old curmudgeoned man: they never softened. I tried everything, but no amount of dog videos or babies laughing seem to soften these beans. Let me explain the recipe. Maybe you can tell me what I did wrong, besides think that I could ever cook with black beans in the first place.

First, I chopped some chicken off of some drumsticks and wings that I had defrosted. That meat was on there tighter than super glue, so I ended up with very uneven pieces of chicken, but chicken nonetheless. Next, I cooked the chicken in a large pot, with garlic and olive oil and onions. It's called sautéing, with a little symbol over the 'e', because it's French, and the French are hella fancy and good at cooking.

Next, I threw in some chicken stock, some apple cider vinegar (which came highly recommended by the Farmshare folks), and those sweet, sweet beans I was talking about earlier. And BAM! (Emerill Lagassi was there too!) There it is! Now, I brought that puppy to a boil (not a real puppy), then a low simmer and sat back and let the hot water work its magic. Cooking is easy!

For a compliment to the beans, I said "You look nice!" and I also made rice in a rice cooker. A rice cooker is like a stove pot except it says Black and Decker on it. From there, I kept checking my simmering black beans, knowing the whole time that this was working. It actually worked!!

It didn't work. The black beans came out a little softer than they went in, which is weird, cause I soaked them overnight in a bowl of water. They were wet, no question. What they weren't were soft and flavorful. They felt and tasted like trying to chew through tiny, black potatoes. Mix that with the rice and the other veggies and the chicken simmering, and that's a heavy meal. It was so heavy, Michael J. Fox would look at it and say it was "too heavy stuff, doc!"

The meal tasted fine, mind you, it's just that the beans were underdone and underwhelming. I'd been pumping them up in my head so much so that they were already soft when I imagined them. But in reality, no, they were like a bad Viagra experience; still hard after all this time. I was a combination of mortified and hungry. I served my girlfriend the dinner (and I use this word loosely), she took a few bites, and asked "What else are we having?" My life was ruined. And all because I blew it on some beans that I had gotten, beans that I had no business cooking. When you have no business cooking something, that's called pulling a Guy Fieri. The worst part is that I made enough for about ten servings, so I've BEAN eating this all week.

I feel like I let most chefs down. So if you're reading this, and you're a chef, please take pity on me. Praise me for my courage; don't braise me because it increases flavor. Remember me how I was before, determined and hopeful, ready to take on whatever life threw at me. It just so happens that life threw beans at me, and I failed. It's no secret that I need a few more lessons in cooking. One day, I'll make black beans so well that even Chipotle will be like "How'd he do that?" That's the dream; to be better than Chipotle.