Restaurant Recipe: Brasa's red beans

Restaurant Recipe: Brasa's red beans
Confessions of a Foodie/Flickr

"It's funny," says Brasa St. Paul kitchen manager Roderick McCulloch.  "Minnesota is one of the top bean producers in the country, but it's hard to find them locally because they're shipped all over."

At Brasa, McCulloch and award-winning head chef Alex Roberts (with whom he co-owns the St. Paul location) have made the extra effort to serve up the local crop when possible. Their menu features a tasty red bean dish that includes sausage, onions, cilantro, and spices. It's a dish Roberts uses at home and is available as a side at the restaurant, although McCulloch points out it also makes a great breakfast.

"I was always told growing up that a good breakfast is one of the best ways to start the day," McCulloch says. A flavorful dish that goes well eggs or polenta, beans make for a simple but hearty meal full of protein.  "If you have a tortilla or any kind of egg or cream base, it's a great breakfast."

With winter having hit full force, McCulloch offered up the lowdown on this delicious, nutritious meal to Hot Dish.

Regardless of whether you buy the beans fresh or in the can, McCulloch recommends starting out by sauteing some bacon, sausage, onion, and garlic in a little bit of lard. Butter and olive oil are good alternatives to the lard, while any number of sausages will work out - McCulloch suggests garlic, chorizo, or andouille from Lorentz (available at the Wedge). Before the onions and garlic begin gaining color, add a bit of cilantro, cumin, and oregano. When these have heated together, add the beans, with a dash of vinegar and hot sauce and a bundle of thyme.

At this point, submerge the ingredients in about an inch and a half of water and let them simmer--"at least an hour," McCulloch recommends--stirring frequently. When the beans are ready, they should be buttery and tender, still firm but with no chalkiness.

Then you simply ladle them over some eggs or rice and enjoy!

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