When I think of beans, I think of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal and his famous scene describing how he paired one of his victim’s livers with beans and his “nice chianti.” This iconic scene has forever made me associate beans with the rich, deep flavors and creepy noises he makes while talking to Clarice.
And while the beans pair well with rich-flavored butter and protein, they’re good the other way around, pickled with the bright flavors of dill, garlic, and cayenne pepper. This is lucky because when the gardener starts tossing the beans, they are tossing them all at the same time. The first few full-size grains that emerged from the plants were enough for dinner. I left for a week and came back to a more mature fava than I knew what to do with it.
Beans, like most peeled beans and peas, have a fairly short shelf life once they’ve been picked. They are best eaten fresh or preserved by drying or freezing immediately. Another option is to pickle some. I use a cold pickle recipe to preserve these beans rather than a hot pickle to retain as much of their fresh texture as possible. Fresh beans have a nice crispiness that gets lost with high heat pickles.
The method is simple – peel the grains and sort them by size. You can be a cutter or a splitter here, it’s up to you how far you want to get that step. But I sort them into two groups: small to large and very large. Larger grains are considered to be hardier and better for drying. Everything smaller is tender and perfect for fresh cooking, pickling or freezing.
From there, make the pickling brine, cool it, and cover the beans with the liquid. Place them in the refrigerator for one to two weeks to allow the brine to completely penetrate the grains. These will last for weeks to a few months in the refrigerator.
I add them to salads, serve them alongside charcuterie, and eat them straight out of the jar. Use them anywhere you’d use pickled vegetables, they add texture, acidity, and bright flavors to any dish. You can serve them up with some lightly browned venison liver and chianti and pay homage to one of cinema’s scariest villains. Although I think I prefer Ron with liver and beans.