June 1, 2011

Quick and delicious 1940s Chuck Wagon Beans recipe

Day 152 of Vintage 365

Over the years I've developed, picked up or adopted from my youth many dishes which I know by heart inside and out. I don't open a cookbook or go searching online for a recipe when I make them, they're ingrained like the groves in a well worn wooden spoon in my mind. I'm sure many of you have your own reserve of such tried and true, deeply beloved recipes, too.

One that floated into the reportraire last year is a quick-as-flash, very paired down version of vegan chilli that I came up during the dog days of summer, when my husband and I wanted something filling, but devoid of hours spent melting over a hot stove in an even hotter, cramped apartment kitchen. I call the dish, rather un-fussily, Mexican Beans.

It's a simple concoction of kidney (red or white - the mister prefers red, I veer towards white) or black beans, tomato sauce, a little water, diced onions, fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, crushed coriander seeds, bay leaf, sea salt and black pepper, and chilli powder - all of which is cooked together for 20-30 minutes, until the beans have softened and the flavours of the sauce married beautifully.

Neither of us are big fans of spicy dishes, but you could certainly add some fresh or canned chilli peppers as well, if you wanted. To keep this dish on the low fat and calorie side, I don't use any oil, butter, meat or cheese (excluding these ingredients also means it's even easier to whip up a pan of Mexican Beans with store cupboard and a few fresh produce ingredients alone, making it a very economical dish to boot!), but you certainly could (some sharp cheddar grated over top would be a lovely touch).

Recently on Flickr I spotted a somewhat similar recipe from 1948 (which includes ground beef, garlic and little bit of drippings or shortening) that also cooks up relatively quickly (much quicker than the duration for which I generally cook my full-on chilli con carne, which is usually for nothing less than three hours over a low simmer) featuring Hunt's Tomato Sauce called (rather charmingly in a nod to the Western trend of the 40s and 50s) Chuck Wagon Beans.


{Click here for a larger version of this stick-to-your ribs vintage Hunt's tomato sauce, ground beef and kidney bean recipe, which comes by way of clotho98 on Flickr.}

On this first day of June, with summer already in full swing (temperature wise!) for many - and soon to be here for more still - I thought this super easy bean recipe would be a fun one to share for those days when you want a warm meal, but don't want to pass out from heat stroke after cooking for hours in the kitchen!

Pair it with a salad of  straight-from-the-fridge greens, zesty radishes and cooling apple slices, your favourite bread (or cornbread), and an icy drink and you’ve got a meal that’s filling, healthy and a snap to put together any day of the week.

I hope that this vintage recipe post finds you each doing terrifically and gearing up for an awesome sixth month of the year. Happiest June wishes, and summertime cooking, my wonderful friends!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Jessica,
    Thanks for the post about beans! We are bean enthusiasts living in the Southwest, where spicy food is served at every meal. Beans have sure been a thrifty way to satisfy the appetite for many years. We grow them in our garden and promote their use at our website. We hope more people adopt this economical, nourishing food as a mainstay of their diet!
    Regards, Barbara and David Larson