Boston Herald

Bean there, loved that

Delicious Best-Ever Beans are dinnerpart­y worthy

- By Bethany Jean Clement

Approximat­ely 1,001 bean-related articles came out over the past few years.

Several recipes for The Best-Ever Beans that I tried out during the pandemic turned out sturdily good — a fine side dish or light supper, nothing superlativ­e about them. Leaving beans behind for a bit seemed all right, cupboard side-eye notwithsta­nding.

Then friends Bradley and Gillian Sweeks had us over for dinner and made truly, The Best Beans Ever. These were main-dish-dinnerpart­y-worthy beans: Richly savory, they were somehow possessed of both a deeply satisfying simplicity and, if you thought about the beans while engulfing them, a little tantalizin­g complexity.

Bradley noted that while he used to make his beans with ham hock, this method involving a lot of olive oil came out, he thought, even better. Additional­ly, he mentioned tomato and anchovy and shallot. He also served the beans with his good-and-garlicky homemade sourdough focaccia. (Ahead-of-time-note: You’ll want to soak your beans — see step 1.)

Bradley Sweek’s BestEver Beans INGREDIENT­S

1 pound dried beans

Around 3 teaspoons salt (aka 1 Bradley’s palmful) 1 tablespoon-ish vinegar — red wine, apple cider or whatever you have kicking around

About 1 1/2 cups decentqual­ity extra-virgin olive oil 1 2-ounce tin of anchovies, roughly chopped, with all their extra oil (for vegetarian/vegan friends, substitute about 4 ounces pitted and chopped oil-cured olives with their extra oil)

1 large shallot, minced 3-4 cloves garlic, minced 1 28-ounce can of tomatoes 2-3 medium-to-large carrots, quartered and sliced Freshly ground black pepper About 1 tablespoon-plus fresh rosemary or sage (or use fresh basil in summertime)

Grated Parmesan, to garnish


If you can, soak the beans overnight in water with a couple inches extra to cover (and even 4 to 6 hours is good, too). Whether they are fresh dry beans or old ones, it won’t hurt and will always help.

Drain the beans and put them, the salt, the vinegar and almost a cup of olive oil — this is the key to the beans being really yummy and savory — in a large pot. Add water to about 2 inches above the top of the beans, bring them to a boil for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Check them every so often — you might need to add a little water here and there if the level is dropping below the beans. Use hot tap water or water from a simmering kettle, and it won’t drop the temperatur­e too much.

Start checking after 40 minutes for tenderness, and meanwhile, keep going with the steps here. Your beans will take an hour or two, or possibly a little longer — they should be holding together but buttery-soft inside.

To a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1/4 inch of olive oil, the anchovies/ their oil and the shallot, then cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the tomatoes, carrots, your herb of choice and about 20 grinds of black pepper. Sauté over mediumhigh until bubbling, turn down to medium and cook for about 15 minutes until everything gets to know each other nicely, then take off the heat.

Just as your beans are ready, dump in your skilletful of goodness. Stir into the beans. Add another glug of olive oil. You can let this go on a simmer while you do other things — it will only get better.

Serve with lots of grated Parm. Serves 4 for dinner; double for a dinner party or big family.

 ?? JACK BENNETT — TNS ?? Serve Bradley Sweek’s Best-Ever Beans with lots of grated Parm, some good bread and a simple salad for dinner-partyworth­y greatness.
JACK BENNETT — TNS Serve Bradley Sweek’s Best-Ever Beans with lots of grated Parm, some good bread and a simple salad for dinner-partyworth­y greatness.

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