This post contains information and a step-by-step guide to making Brothy Butter Beans with delicious croutons on top.
Beans, Beans the magical fruit - the more you eat, the more you... bolus for? But don't be mad about it. Beans are packed full of protein, carbs and other nutrients to keep your Blood Glucose (BG) levels happy! There's a lot of fiber in beans in addition to the protein content, so the carbohydrates we bolus for don't typically induce a spike in BG levels.
The first time I had these beans was in the beginning of 2020, before COVID19 was even a part of our vocabulary and weekend trips with friends was a thing. I was in Tahoe, when a friend and I found this recipe through one of the Bon Appetit Youtube videos where Carla Lalli-Music walked us through the bean making process and we decided we'd make it for the group. I ended up getting distracted (probably by a bottle of wine) so my friend took the reins on the dish and delivered. They were out of this world. I really don't think up until then, I had been so head over heals in love with a solely bean dish. Since then, I've made these beans a few times for my own family. Making a large pot is easy and lasts through the week. I think the longer the beans sit in the broth, the more delicious they are.
The recipe, which is more of a conversation between Carla and the chef of New York restaurant, Marlow & Sons, uses the butter beans from a farm only 20 minutes from me in Half Moon Bay, California called Iacopi Farms. Their beans are available at local farmers markets or can be shipped. And they're what I use!
Step 1. Soak the beans overnight for a minimum of 6 hours in the refrigerator. I've found the longer they soak the better. Cover your beans with about 2-3 inches of water in a big bowl.
Step 2. Drain the beans and add to a large pot of water on the stove. The beans should be covered by 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and scum will appear at the top, scrape that and discard. Once boiling, add salt. Lots of salt (I have learned to add salt to every step, beans can hold a lot of salt so be very generous).
Step 3. Add some garlic. This is a very Italian dish, so add more garlic than you think you'll need. I chop it up, or just break open the cloves to activate the flavors. Salt. So. Much. Salt.
Step 4. The fat cap. This is an important part and where you can take the vegetarian route or meat lovers route. I add olive oil, about an inch or so on top of the water but adding something like pork or duck fat can add a beautiful rich flavor as well. This fat cap will hold the flavors in the beans below.
Step 5. Add more flavors. Oregano. Salt. Thyme. Salt. Sage (I love sage). More salt. MINT. I also really like a charred lemon. I put the halves of a lemon on a skillet until nice and dark and charred then pop them in the pot! This also might be a nice time to get ride of the over ripe tomatoes in your garden!
Step 6. Now that the flavors and fat cap are there. I leave them barely simmering for...a while. This can be an hour or an hour and a half. I stir gently and frequently. You want to stir gently because you don't want to damage the beans. But you want to cook them evenly, so stirring is necessary. Also, add salt.
Step 7. At about the hour mark, I start to try the broth and beans obsessively. It says so in the Bon Appetit article but I agree completely, one moment they seem so far from done and the next moment, they are PERFECT. It might seem like they'll never be there but with just a little patience (& salt), they will be.
Step 8. The croutons are my favorite part. I like picking up a loaf of bread from the farmers market and leaving a few slices out on the counter overnight. While the beans are cooking, I chop them up and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in the over for 10 min at 375 F or the air fryer if you have one!
So there ya have it. Serve up those beans, dress it with the croutons and you have a delicious and filling meal for a few days! The broth is delicious and I end up drinking it after the beans are gone. Let me know if you try this recipe!