Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kidney beans with smoked turkey

Whenever my SO and I go to fairs we love getting smoked turkey legs. The only problem is that we rarely finish them at the fair; since my SO and I ended up with half of a smoked turkey leg left over from a recent trip to a fair, we decided to add it to some kidney beans cooked with onion and spices. We were improvising the entire time, but the dish smelled delicious as it was cooking (Radagast thought a neighbor was barbequeing, until he realized he was smelling this dish), and was thick, creamy, and savory once it was done. It's difficult to describe exactly what this dish is like; it falls somewhere in within the triangle of refried beans, an Indian dal, and bean soup. It's this week's second end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 red jalapeno (or other fresh chili) pepper, deveined, seeded, and sliced into thin strips about 1-2cm long
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed with a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon cumin
12 peppercorns
6 cloves
2 bay leaves
6 1/2 cups water
3/4 pound dry kidney beans
1/2 of a large smoked turkey leg, bone-in (a chunk of ham should be a fine substitute)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the onions turn translucent.
2. Add the jalapeno pepper and continue cooking, stirring nearly constantly, until the onions have turned light brown.
3. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two more.
4. Add the spices and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
5. Add the water, beans, smoked turkey, and salt; stir to mix.
6. Simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the beans are tender and the dish is thickened (it should be the consistency of thin refried beans or a dal; it should not be soupy). Check (and stir) the dish occasionally; add extra water if the dish is drying out. We simmered the dish partially covered for the first hour, and then covered for the remainder of the time. You can mash the cooked beans with a spoon to give the dish a creamier texture, if desired.
7. Once the beans are mostly cooked (during step 6), take out the turkey leg and let it cool. When the turkey leg is cool enough to handle, remove all the meat from the bone (chopping any particularly large pieces) and return the meat to the pot. This can be done anytime after the beans have been cooking for a while.
8. Taste to check the salt level (it may be low for your tastes), adjust to your preference, and then serve.


This was another improvised dish, so the proportions are approximate and feel free to play with the ingredients. This tasted great served with Spanish rice, a recipe we'll post once we have the chance to test it out again.

Keep an eye out for the whole spices as you're eating the dish; while they're not harmful to eat, you might want to pick them out if you can find them.

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