provided by Jim Gordon
Anyone can (and probably should) grill a large hunk of protein for their Labor Day barbecue, but this year I’m adding something different to our celebration by making authentic wine country style beans as a side dish.
Yes, beans. One of my fondest taste memories from when I first moved to Napa Valley is the flavor of the spicy, smoky, slow-cooked beans that seemed to be an indigenous dish in wine country. The volunteer fire department served them alongside juicy rib-eye steaks for their annual fund-raiser. If memory serves, the local Soroptimist Club and American Legion Post had their own tasty versions.
These memories came back recently when I made wine country beans from a recipe by Jeffrey Starr, the winery chef for Trinity Oaks Vineyard. This dish is made from “Pinquitos,” the small pink beans, and shows its Hispanic heritage with the use of salsa and cumin. My only addition to his recipe is to add more zip with a couple of dashes of Tabasco.
These Wine Country Style Beans are a fitting side dish for grilled steak or tri-tip beef done with a spicy rub, or for grilled chicken. Add a green salad, soft corn tortillas and your dessert of choice and your guests will have a delicious rest from their labor.
What wine? This is not a meal to pair with a subtle or aged wine. A ripe, super-fruity style of Chardonnay, Zinfandel or Merlot should taste great with it. To push the envelope a bit, open a Syrah.
2 cups pinquito (small pink) beans
1 strip bacon, diced
1 / 2 cup ham, diced
1 cup red wine
2 T finely chopped fresh garlic
3 / 4 cup tomato puree
1 / 4 cup salsa
2 T brown sugar
1 T dry mustard
1 T dried Mexican oregano, crushed
1 T ground cumin
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Pick through the beans and remove any small stones. Place in pot, cover with water and soak overnight. Drain beans, place in a large pot, cover with a generous amount of fresh water, and simmer for two hours, or until tender.
Saute bacon and ham until slightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add red wine, tomato puree, salsa, sugar, mustard, oregano, cumin and salt.
Drain most liquid from beans and save. Stir in sauce and simmer for 1 / 2 hour. Add some of the saved liquid if beans get too dry. Makes 6 to 8 servings.