Cranberry beans are a bit sweeter and much more delicate your common kidney beans or pintos traditionally used in chile. They have a wonderful creamy texture and have a mild, nutty flavor that I thought would pair quire well with a verde sauce. I have to be honest, this box ingredient was a bit challenging for me. Why you ask? I’m not a member of the bean appreciation club. Really…. I’ve tried to like them but I have an issue with certain food textures (Don’t ask me how I can possibly cook at all) So with this recipe I HAD to try the beans and honestly, I was quite surprised. They are quite creamier than anticipated. This recipe relied much on my keen sense of smell and my helpful husband with a discerning taste when it comes to beans.
This recipe included a few items that were out of season. Luckily, I had some canned items from last year’s harvest that I was able to incorporate into the dish as well as some green tomatoes that I had an overabundance of. You can do the same or hold off on cooking the sauce until the tomatillos and tomatoes are readily available. It involves A LOT of roasting and a lot of time and patience but is well worth the wait.
Peel your onions and cut in half removing the top and bottom. Slice your peppers in half and remove seeds.
Husk your tomatillos and cut off the stems. Slice the tops off of your tomatoes.
In a large baking dish - fill with your tomatillos, tomatoes. On a separate baking sheet, add your onions and add your peppers skin side up. Place in oven on broil for 30-60 minutes until blackened. Your peppers and onions should be done first, around 30 minutes and your tomatoes and tomatillos should be done after an hour depending on their size and your oven. I've never had the same cooking time when it comes to roasting so it's best to check them ever 20 minutes or so until you see the skin turn crisp and black. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Reserve the red Jalapenos for your topping. Keep the skin on everything (but the onions of course) and in a large food processor or blender, add your roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, onions, pasillas, green jalepenos, garlic, cilantro and juice of two limes. Pour any liquid from the pan into the blender as well. Blend until smooth and add salt to taste.
You should have AT LEAST four cups of salsa verde for your beans. This recipe always has a bit of a variance due to the size and the harvest. Any extra should be reserved for salsa or storage.
Rinse your beans and remove any unwanted bits. In a large bowl, cover with water and allow to soak for at least 4 hours.
Peel and julienne your nopoles.
In a dutch oven or thick bottomed pot, add your beans and four cups of the salsa verde sauce. Add cumin, Mexican oregano, vegetable bouillon and nopoles. Cover and heat on low for approximately 6 hours.
At the 3 hour mark, check your beans every half hour or so. Does your sauce look too thick? Add a little water to the mix. Depending on how watery your tomatillos and tomatoes where, you may have to add a little water so your sauce isn't overly thick. (Again, this is one of those recipes that requires a little extra attention)
At the 5 hour mark, check your beans for doneness. They generally take around 6 hours but I have had them finish cooking out before that. Taste testing is key here!
Once your beans are done, add your Mexican crema to the pot and stir. If you want to keep this recipe vegan, just omit the crema. Serve and top with fresh cilantro, roasted red peppers and a little more crema. Enjoy!