We like to eat fresh beans that are cooked until they are super soft and tender. We were first introduced to the idea of “overcooked” beans by Marco Canora. He showed us how to braise romano, wax, and runner beans in a blond soffrito with tomatoes and aromatics. The slow cooking process and what it did for the beans was revelatory. The memory continues to inspire us. We found lima beans at the Doylestown farmers market. I wanted to braise them. But I was not in the mood for tomatoes and onions. I like the idea of creamed corn and creamed spinach, so creamed lima beans were an easy leap. Except cooking in cream didn’t excite me. I am still smitten with buttermilk. So we looked at our bullet proof beurre monte as the base. We like to pair meat and beans together and everyone knows pepperoni is another fetish of mine so we added it to the mix. We used our blend of gum Arabic and xanthan gums to keep the mixture heat stable. Then we added the beans and simmered them over low heat for over an hour. The buttermilk briefly curdled and then came back together. The mixture thickened as the water evaporated from the pot. We did not peel the second skin from the lima beans. Instead we let gentle heat break them down. The end result was a stew of creamy lima beans flavored with pepperoni. The beans were fresh and flavorful. They easily held their own against the pepperoni. Everything came together beautifully. We ate them straight from the pot with a couple of spoons.
500 grams buttermilk
100 grams pepperoni cut into slices
2.5 grams gum Arabic
0.75 grams xanthan gum
Put the buttermilk and pepperoni into a blender and turn on low. Increase the speed to high and puree the mixture until it is smooth, about 45 seconds. Turn the blender down to low and sprinkle in the gum Arabic and xanthan gum. Increase the speed to high and blend for 30 seconds, until the powders have been completely absorbed. Turn the blender off and strain the pepperoni buttermilk through a fine mesh strainer. Use a small ladle or the back of a spoon to press on the solids and force all of the buttermilk liquid through the strainer. Use immediately or reserve the pepperoni buttermilk in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
*The pepperoni buttermilk is heat stable. This does not mean you can leave it on the stove and forget about it. We use it to gently cook fresh beans, to enrich dried beans and as a sauce for seafood. When we cook with the pepperoni buttermilk it appears to curdle a bit during the initial heating. But continuing to cook it down as we did with the beans, whisking in a splash of cold water, or putting back into a blender will bring the sauce back together.