One thing I liked about my cooking class, was that I experimented with recipes and ingredients I likely would not have tackled alone. I even cooked with celery (only after peeling it) but this post is all about red wine. Before my mom showed me, I didn’t know that red wine was a magic ingredient in the succulent braised beef rolls (rouladen). It wasn’t soon after that we made braised steak with red wine during cooking class, and I declared anything braised in red wine must be good! Little did I know that my least favourite dish from the class would be coq au vin, also cooked with red wine. Our chef instructor explained that chicken doesn’t always pair well with red wine and coq au vin is supposed to be made with rooster, which therefore must taste better.
I have cooked with red wine once before, making a sinfully delicious mushroom bourguignon with spaetzle, and what I loved about the vegetarian dish is that the mushrooms didn’t need that much red wine for the braising. With only 1 cup of red wine for the mushroom bourguignon, the rest of the bottle was enjoyed by others at the dinner table. Whereas the more authentic boeuf bourguignon required the whole bottle to braise the meat.
This brought me to this recipe with kidney beans stewed in red wine with tomatoes (erm, tomato paste) and fresh herbs, adapted slightly from Cooking Books who adapted it from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. The simplicity of the dish appealed to me, with a list of fresh and healthy ingredients leading to a delicious stew of red beans. I had to wait for the weekend to be able to afford so much oven and stove time for the beans, though. It didn’t take much effort, but I needed to be around during those hours. It was a nice way to warm up my apartment with delicious smells and the subsequent beans tasted great. Served with a crusty bread, it was a filling meal. The leftovers weren’t as good, but not much lasted that long.
Kidney Beans Stewed in Red Wine with Tomatoes and Herbs
1 1/2 cups dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
Olive oil for the pan
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, diced
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (omitted)
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
assorted fresh herbs (I used 1-2 sprigs each of parsley, tarragon, rosemary and basil)
1. Combine the drained beans and 4 cups of fresh water in a pot over medium heat. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partly covered, for one hour. You may need to add a bit more water part way through so the mixture won’t dry out, but I was ok.
2. With around 20 minutes until the beans are finished, preheat the oven to 275 F. Warm the oil in an oven-proof pot over medium heat and cook the onion and carrot, along with a pinch of salt, for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomato paste and brown. Be sure to stir once in a while so nothing sticks, but the brown stuff on the bottom of the pan is where all the flavour is.
3. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, and then increase the heat, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the vinegar and bay leaf, and finally the beans with their water. Tie a bouquet garni made up of the fresh herbs and bay leaf (can also put inside an empty tea sachet meant for loose tea) and add it to the pot. Also add any additional water necessary to barely cover the beans.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and place in the oven. Bake in the oven, covered, for 1.5 hours, then uncover for the last 1/2 hour. Remove the bouquet garni and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Serve with minced parsley sprinkled over the top and a piece of whole-wheat bread on the side.