Thursday, September 27, 2012

Herb and Tomato Braised Tongue of Fire Beans

Sometimes you go for the long pass and you just come up short.  It's a game of inches and you just couldn't quite reach those last few.  But you know that if you hadn't gone for it, you'd have had no chance at all of winning the game.  That's how it is in life- you just have to go for it sometimes, hoping all the while that your risk will pay off.  Sometimes it doesn't, but those moments are meant to help you prepare for when the next opportunity comes along.  So that you're ready for the next big throw.  And this time you won't miss.
That simply football analogy can apply to a many areas of my life these days, but on this particular occasion it's all about my youngest son.  We've been struggling to see eye to eye lately and the battle has taken on a life of its own in the past few weeks.  It's a power struggle that I was blindsided by and completely unprepared for.  Having already shepherded one child through the toddler stage fairly successfully, I thought I knew what I was doing.  And then this little guy came along and I realized I had absolutely clueless I really was.  My oldest was a relatively easy child, so when my little power-hungry, stubborn as an ox three years old takes hours of my day hostage with his battle to get his way I am at a complete loss.
Don't get me wrong, when he's not waging World War III over which shoes he wants to wear to the grocery store or whether or not he wants to go visit the chickens at the farmer's market (and yes, these are actual examples of recent battles), my little one is the sweetest, most loving and cuddly boy ever.  A complete and total momma's boy, in fact.  We should have known what we were getting into when we named him.  Wyatt, and old West lawman with a reputation for never backing down from a fight, no matter what it cost him.  But also a man who loved deeply and ferociously protecting his loved ones.  That's our little man to a T.  Of course, it's also how I would describe my husband.  How could I not see this coming?
One of our reoccurring battles is over food.  Wyatt is picky to a degree that I never knew possible.  So when he picked up a bag of dried beans at the farm stand and asked me to cook them for him (wait for it, here's where the football analogy comes into play), I decided to take the ball and run with it.  Had we finally turned a corner?  Did he realize the wisdom of Mommy and decide to follow my example?  "Not important", I thought.   I'm not going to question it.  I'm simply going to honor his request, go for the long pass, and hope that he catches it at the other end.
In the end, after waiting patiently for me to cook him up a pot of the wonderfully fragrant beans, the little man decided that they weren't for him after all.  Sigh.  But you know what?  I'm still going to call it a completion.  Because he had the instinct to try something new and he didn't fight me on the decision.  So I'm to keep taking him back to the farm stand, hoping that he'll keep picking up foods he's willing to try.  And I'll cook them for him every time.  Because every battle that I don't have to fight is another win for me.

Herb and Tomato Braised Tongue of Fire Beans
Makes about 3 cups.
For a printable recipe, click here.

I think these beans are just about the prettiest raw beans I have ever seen- bright pink and swirled with rust-colored markings.  Even the pods are beautiful.  Their cooked form looks more like a typical pinto bean, which you could probably substitute here with no problems.  Do yourself a favor and use dry beans though, not the canned ones.  I don't think the texture would be nearly as appealing.  I found the beans to be a great topping for some grilled crusty bread.  But, per my husband's suggestion, we've also had them over grilled Italian sausage (a glorified franks and beans, if you will), which was delightful.  The beans would also make a nice side dish for roasted chicken or a big, juicy steak.

1 1/2 cups dry tongue of fire or pinto beans
1 small red onion, quartered and sliced
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/3 cup halved slow roasted or sun dried tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Place the beans in a medium saucepan.  Cover with cold water by an inch.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to the heat and simmer the beans for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the beans sit in the cooking liquid for one hour.  (You could further flavor the beans by adding some aromatics such as a bay leaf, a clove of garlic or herbs to the pot along with the water.  Just be sure to remove them before moving on the the next step of the cooking process.)

In the meantime, In another medium saucepan, saute the red onions in a bit of olive oil until they begin to soften and become translucent.  Drain the beans and add them to the onions along with the garlic, herbs, tomatoes and broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the beans.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm over toasted bread, sausages or as a side dish.


  1. The beans look delicious, and your blog looks amazing (as always)... and I definitely feel your three-year-old pain!! Wyatt and Mirabelle would probably get along well.

    1. Thanks Tina! And if Mirabelle is anything like Wyatt, I think the world is a safer place if they stay on opposite coasts! Ha ha!