[ This post is written by Sander, expressing his profound love of beans and beer ;) ]
There are many great snacks to go with beer – potato chips, cheese, various nuts, smoked ribs, pork rinds, pepper sausages and many, many more.
But in my opinion, none of them comes even close to the freshly boiled fava beans – if made in the right way. They are just horrible, if not made in the right way, so do follow my instructions!
Fava or broad beans (Vicia faba, also faba bean, horse bean, field bean, tic bean) should be readily available everywhere in the world. If you cannot find fresh beans, don’t despair – dried ones are even better.
Start by soaking thoroughly rinsed fava beans in cold water – use about three times as much water as you have beans, as they will get a whole lot bigger. You can skip the soaking – but then you’ll have to boil beans for three hours or even more. Therefore, soaking is generally A Very Good Idea.
My personal invention is to add salt to the soaking water – against all expectations, beans soak faster and salt goes into them. You should soak beans at least three or four hours, but more is better. Perhaps around 8 hours is the best.
You can try if they have been soaked enough by tasting them. If they are moist and tasty, easily chewable, then they are ready. Otherwise, soak them some more.
Rinse the beans again and put them to boiling water – you will need about twice as much water as you have beans. Immediately add salt – for one thing, it increases the boiling temperature of the water a bit and secondly, it gives salt more time to go into the beans.
It is critically important to add salt right away. Some people (like my mother) will add salt when beans are almost done – and it has no time to go into the beans. And she wonders why no one wants boiled beans when she makes them. Well, they will taste like someone has already eaten them once and they didn’t sit well in his belly…
Then add smoked pork – you don’t have to add lots or pricey meat. Meat from cheap smoked ribs or ham hocks will do just fine. It is for the taste, so half of a pound is more then enough.
I add usually also some bullion cubes – either pork or some other flavor. Remember that bullion cubes are salty – you don’t want to over salt your delicious beans.
Some people also add onion, I’ve done that occasionally but am not a big fan of it. Try both with and without, perhaps you’ll like the taste. You can also add a bit of oil or butter, that will keep the beans from cracking and make the outside layer a bit softer. If you have fatty meat, though, skip the oil.
Boil on low heat from hour to hour and a half – or even two hours, depending on the size of the beans. Try to contain your hunger for them – they will start smelling delicious loooong before they are ready.
Doesn’t hurt to taste them occasionally, though… ;)
Get rid of the leftover water and pour them into a bowl or bowls. Serve immediately – it is easiest to use just fingers for eating, but a fork is OK as well. Have plenty of nice cold beer ready… and it will be a feast to remember!
However, beans are only good for an hour or so. When they get cold, they aren’t nearly as good. You can try freezing them and heating up in a microwave later, but the resulting mushy mess does not taste anything like the golden brown food of the gods you had before. So, be careful not to make too much at once.
(image from Wikipedia)