Meatless. . . mostly?
February 28, 2012 11:42 AM   Subscribe

What are some good compendia of recipes that contain meat, but are mostly beans or legumes?

We're currently living on a lot less money than we used to. I've slashed our grocery budget down to less than half of what it used to be -- go me -- but this means I need to adjust my cooking radically as well. Basically, we're eating a lot more beans, because they are cheap. But we all love the flavor of meat! So I've started cooking a lot of things that have some meat in them, but not too much. I'm talking about beans and rice made with salt pork, or 3-bean chili, or split pea soup with ham, or black beans with cumin and sausage, or cassoulet (minus the duck confit). Think like 4-8 ounces of meat to make 6-8 servings.

I am a pretty good cook with a well-appointed kitchen, and I have access to good, flavorful meat. (We still have some of a grass-fed split side of beef in the freezer, and I make my own sausage and other charcuterie.) I need to keep variety high to keep my family, particularly my hard-working but underemployed husband, from feeling like we're eating the same damn thing again and again and again. What are your favorite recipes or collections of recipes?
posted by KathrynT to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Not a compendia, but this is one of my favorite winter dishes -- wine poached sausage and lentil stew. It's pretty easy, you could make it with less sausages or a couple of ham hocks (or vegan sausages if you swing that way), swap out wine for cider (or beer, I bet). It is very filling and tasty.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:48 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Argh. Sausage and lentil recipe for sure, this time!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:48 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Red beans and rice is pretty good, too, easy to make (although it takes a while, and it's very filling).
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:49 AM on February 28, 2012

Not really a suggestion for dishes, but pork shoulder is extremely cheap (I buy it on sale for $1.49/lb) and adds a lot of flavor to dishes.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:52 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ma Po Tofu! It's *really* good.

Another budget cruncher is soup bones, neck bones, skanks, and other cheap cuts of meat that you'll have to let cook for hours and hours but then are transcendent.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:52 AM on February 28, 2012

The traditional Jewish dish cholent is a yummy bean and meat stew.
posted by Melismata at 11:57 AM on February 28, 2012

Liquid smoke can do an amazing job of replicating that ham flavor in split pea soup or beans and rice.
posted by something something at 12:00 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love love love this pinto bean soup recipe from Katie Lee Joel (you can also find it on her website but the formatting's kind of wonky). It calls for 2 slices of bacon but I usually use about 1/2 pound of bacon instead. I make mine in the crockpot, cooking on low all day. It's really really good and is super tasty with 50-cent Jiffy cornbread.
posted by jabes at 12:01 PM on February 28, 2012

Brazillian Feijoada is YUMMY!
posted by Studiogeek at 12:06 PM on February 28, 2012

My favorite recipe collections in this vein are the More With Less Cookbook and the more internationally oriented follow-up, Extending the Table (although there's quite a few international recipes in the first book as well). Both books emphasize using less meat rather than outright vegetarianism. The first book in particular has been quite popular over the decades and I imagine many libraries will have a copy.
posted by drlith at 12:23 PM on February 28, 2012

Oh, and black bean burgers with bacon, of course.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2012

I recently saw this book recommended on a thrifty food blog: Spilling the Beans

On second thought, you probably would like the blog, too: Simple Bites
posted by purpletangerine at 1:35 PM on February 28, 2012

The simplest way is best. Put a package of dried beans (darker are better) in a very big pot, add water to cover by 3 or 4 inches (they will swell) and soak overnight. The next morning, add about a pound of smoked, bony pork, such as hock or even a whole foot. (Don't use smoked turkey - the flavor dies.)

Heat to a boil, lower to a slow simmer, cover and go away for 6 hours, checking once an hour to make sure the liquid level stays at or just above the top of the beans.

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a big plate or bowl. Discard the bones, which will slide out, and, if you truly hate fat, pull it apart from the meat and discard. However, it tastes a lot better if you leave in the fat, and also the skin. Refrigerate overnight and remove the congealed layer of fat. Don't skip the refrigeration step. The flavor is amazingly better after a day.

Then you can go crazy. Fill a big soup bowl and heat in the microwave until well warmed but not boiling and then stir in umami flavors: 1 tablespoon each of pomegranate molasses (just boiled down juice - Cortas is the best brand); tamarind paste (Laxmi is by far the best brand), Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and your zingiest extra-virgin olive oil; plus a teaspoon each of fish sauce, Angostura bitters, Sriracha hot sauce (or Tabasco if you must) and sugar (Splenda works fine), capers and white vinegar.

Microwave for 2 more minutes, until boiling around the edges. Correct the flavor balance with salt, more sugar/Splenda and anything else it needs - say a pinch of ground cloves. Stir in about 1/2 cup of yogurt and have the most amazing, filling meal you've eaten in a long time.
posted by KRS at 2:01 PM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Calico beans I use sausage meat instead of the ground beef because that's how I was taught to make it though either way works fine. It is supposed to be a side dish but we often eat it for a main with some nice crusty bead. I also used dried beans I've soaked and cooked as I prefer the texture and I throw in some chick peas (garbanzo beans), basically what ever I have around.

Moroccan Casserole goes a long way too. I use less chicken and add a mountain of chickpeas, again I prefer dried beans not tinned and the beans suck up all the yummy flavour and the chicken is more a flavour enhancer. Goes great with rice.
posted by wwax at 2:18 PM on February 28, 2012

I make black bean soup with chicken broth, black beans (canned or dried, depending on how much time I have), roasted red peppers (makes it kinda smoky), a ton of garlic, the juice of an orange, cumin, cinnamon.

Tonight for supper we're having taco salads. Baked tortilla bowl, black beans made from scratch, one half breast of chicken, poached in broth and wine or beer, shredded (there are only two of us, but still, one half breast will last two meals this way), with salad on top (lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa). I also do the exact same thing with mostly-bean chili and a salad on top. My daughter likes either of these with rice in them, too.

I don't know what it is about the damned tortilla bowl, but it makes it feel more exciting. Even more exciting than the same meal with fried tortilla chips instead of a baked bowl, even though the chips arguably have more flavour.
posted by looli at 3:00 PM on February 28, 2012

Yay, you! From my grandmother, and most delicious. All quantities are guestimated.

Butterbeans, 3 or 4 cans
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb. breakfast or Italian sausage
Chopped tomatoes, 1 or 2 cans
Fennel seed, garlic, thyme, oregano

Saute the onions and sausage, add seasonings, beans and tomatoes. Top off with extra tomato juice, 3 or 4 cups. Simmer at least half an hour ... longer is better. Garnish with a bit of crushed red pepper. If you serve it with a nice crispy cornbread, I will invite myself to dinner. Enjoy!
posted by cyndigo at 5:45 PM on February 28, 2012

I like this Tuscan-inspired sausage/potato/kale soup. I'm not sure that most people would want quite as much kale as I put in my version. We're kale fiends around here.

There are a lot of great soups (how 'bout some gumbo z'herbes?), but if you get tired of soup, might consider going the dumpling route. If you want to get fancy and have some extra time on your hands, maybe some potstickers made with a mixture of ground pork and shredded cabbage. I'd also try some beef-and-bean tamales.
posted by sculpin at 9:34 PM on February 28, 2012

Haleem, the classic stretchable meal for the large clan and guests who might come over.
posted by bardophile at 3:58 AM on February 29, 2012

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