There are times – and anyone will tell you this – when the system cries out, yea, even demands beans! It’s nothing short of common knowledge that this urge, this calling comes most frequently in the heart of winter, on the darkest of days and most particularly during or immediately after a significant snowfall. No rational person will deny this.

Given the universality of this condition, is it any wonder that I felt compelled to put on a pot of beans for my supper this afternoon?

When I pulled out my bean drawer – I keep a goodly supply of dried beans of various kinds at the ready, you might say – I wondered: Shall it be the venerable red bean, that wonderful flavorful legume that shows up on menus both at home and in the neighborhood cafes in the Crescent City every Monday evening, served over rice and with a fat succulent andouille sausage laid upon the pile?

Maybe it should be the Southwestern or cowboy bean: the pinto. I am particularly fond of it because it can stand generous seasoning or hardly none at all depending on one’s taste at the time. It’s the bean of re-fried fame. I sometimes think of the pinto as the Mexican bean.

I can not think of a bowl of beans without remembering as a child sidling up to a bowl of luscious navy beans with bits of ham from the bone floating in the pot. My mother’s navy beans were always the same and that sameness left an indelible place at that supper table in my dreams.

I find it interesting that the Great Northern conjures up similar visions as the Navy but it’s a larger variety and can cook up in a more substantive sauce. I can go either way with the same recipe without even thinking.

The black bean: frijoles negro, is the ubiquitous bean in trendy diners and bistros that shows up in soups, stews and simply served on the side. I love them. I have found that people who can not tolerate the “general” bowl of beans can enjoy a few black beans from time to time.

But tonight I have chosen the giant lima as a companion to my cornbread. First I sauté a large red onion and one stalk of celery in a little olive oil. Then I add 8 oz of dried large lima beans for about 3 or 4 minutes. I then add chicken stock to cover and keep adding this as it cooks to end up with a soupy consistency rather than mushy.

I added one link of spicy chicken jalapeño sausage which interestingly added all the seasoning I needed. No additional salt of pepper. Amazing. Always taste before adding salt.

My bowl of beans was fantastic! Just what I dreamed it would be. My mother would have been impressed, I am sure. I can hear her saying, “Jerry, would you get me just a little bit more of those beans, please? They were really good.” I can’t tell you how much I would love to do that.

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