Heirloom Bean-Mushroom "Carnitas" Casserole
Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Vegetarian
This beautiful little casserole has made several inspired dishes out of what were essentially leftovers. I've cooked 90% of my dishes on the stove-top and it's kind of funny discovering the oven after all these years. He Cooks, She Cooks. It's not intuitive, doesn't make much sense and yet it's the most sublime technique for button mushrooms. I call it mushroom carnitas as the mushrooms cook in liquid and then fry themselves in fat after the liquid evaporates. The flavor is intense. I have been using olive oil instead of butter and I add a bay leaf during the cooking. It makes me feel like I'm helping. A note on tomatoes: when did they start becoming so bad in a can? I remember when tomatoes weren't in season, it was fine to get a big can of whole, peeled tomatoes and they were delicious. Now they are stingy and dry! I've tried Muir Glen and Trader Joes brands recently. I'm trying to avoid cans with BPA lining and both of those pass but the product was very lackluster. I know some of you are thinking, Why not just buy crushed tomatoes in a can if you're going to chop them up anyway? I think the quality of those crushed or pureed tomatoes is even worse and I suspect there's much less tomato inside and you're paying for tomato juice. Yes, I can be a pain. 2 cups cooked Eye of the Goat or another Rancho Gordo heirloom bean 6 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes, chopped roughly 1/2 cup tomato juice from the can 1 cup Sauteed Mushrooms (I refer to them as "Mushroom Carnitas") 2 cloves garlic, minced 1.5 teaspoons thyme 1 teaspoon salt 5 very small fresh mozzarella balls Combine all ingredients except the mozzarella in a small casserole. Stir well. Check for salt, noting that the beans and mushrooms are likely to already be well-salted. Push the mozzarella down in five places. Bake uncovered at 375F for about 45 minutes, but start checking at around 30 minutes. The liquid should be bubbling and the cheese starting to melt.