brown and crusty, just the way i like it. is it the weather? or am i just sick of produce with color? either way, lately my meals have been devoted to variations on earth tones (think caramelized, think maillard reaction, think tasty), or slow and low cooking in the pyroking clay vessel i inherited with my apartment. i love that pyroking. look what he makes me: these are the clay pot beans from john thorne's pot on the fire. a friend made these for me with borlotti (cranberry beans) last year, and i haven't been able to get them out of my mind since. i made mine with cannellini, as thorne suggests, but i actually like the borlotti better, so we're going to try that tonight. basically, you soak the beans for about 12 hours and then bring the liquid to a boil separately from the beans, put the oven on 200°F, add some olive oil, a few sage leaves, salt, pepper and crushed chile pepper, pour the hot bean juice all over it and let it sit for, oh, 4-5 hours, taking care that not a bubble breaks the surface. there's no bean boiling here -- it's all about coaxing the liquid into the beans when they're good and ready to take it. the beans become creamy and sweet and take on an almost molasses-y, meaty flavor all on their own, all the while maintaining their structural integrity. which is the important part. did i mention the delcious brown and crusty bits on the sides?


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