And I’m not talking about the kind that goes moo. I’m looking right at you, Williams Sonoma. You know I’m committed to you, and you alone. I’ll love you forever, even when you try to sell me a $37 avocado slicer, can opener and melon baller combo. But your recipe editors… I got a bone to pick with you.
Case in point – fava beans. Previously to this dinner, the closest I’d gotten to these mutant beans was Silence of the Lambs. (Alas, I did not have them with a nice Chianti.) So I consulted my awesome Williams Sonoma cookbook, which rarely leads me astray. Here’s what I saw:
I should have known when something sounds so simple, it’s really not. First of all, I had no idea what a good fava bean entailed when I bought them; this is one (of the few) cases where bigger is better. Unfortunately for me, I got a pound of beans all different sizes – and removing them from the pods is much more of a pain than my beloved W-S cookbook lets on.
The pods, about the length of your hand, have a seam that goes down the back of the bean; sometimes it opens along the seam, sometimes it doesn’t. Because of this, I think removing the pound of beans from their shells took about 20 minutes alone. And keep this in mind – a pound of beans only gives you about a half a pound of beans if you’re lucky… so over-estimate if you need a certain amount.
After this, you still can’t just eat the things because they have a tough skin covering each individual one. So the second point of annoyance is removing the beans from said shells, which also takes much more time than the recipe lets on. Blanch the beans for a minute or two in salty water, then dump them in a bowl of ice water to cool off until you can handle them. After that, you gotta pop em…each and every one. And it’s so deflating at the end to see that from that one pound of beans and after 40 minutes of waiting, you have… not much to show for it. Keep in mind – this is just a normal cereal bowl.
Only after all this work can you actually saute and eat the friggen things. I just browned some onion and garlic in olive oil and threw the beans in for a few minutes.
If I can impart some advice, it would be to avoid fava beans unless you really want to try something that’s not worth the effort. They were good, don’t get me wrong – they were meaty with a slightly bitter after taste – but not worth the time, I think. Honestly the best part of that dinner was the smoked duck breast I picked up from the Hudson Valley Duck Farm at the Union Square farmers market a few weeks before it (oh my goooooddd if you ever get the chance to get it, GET IT.) Here’s their website.