Fava beans, corn, tomatoes…all foods that remind us (in the northeast at least) that summer is just around the corner.
For the first time, I used the revered Thomas Keller’s method of cooking fava beens – shuck first, then cook. I first read about it in his interviews in Michael Ruhlman’s Soul of a Chef, and then in Keller’s own French Laundry Cookbook. In theory, leaving the skin on the bean while it cooks traps gases inside which accelerate its oxidation. Shucking the beans before cooking preserves their color and flavor by allowing those gases to escape. I doubted if it really made a big difference, but now am totally convinced! Normally, I shell, then blanch, then shuck – the skins just slide right off this way. Still, no matter how careful I am to shuck the beans right after blanching, use tons of water to blanch, and make sure the favas are perfectly cooked, I can never avoid getting that little gray patch of oxidation that just seems to spread the longer the beans sit – and they’re always a little slimy. Well not this time. Have you ever seen cooked favas so green?
I used them to make Succotash. Not only did they stay that green in the fridge as I prepared the rest of my ingredients, they even kept their color after being mixed in and warmed up with the rest of the succotash.
Granted, shucking before cooking is more difficult and a little more time consuming, but I’m converted. In addition to the eye appeal, pre-shucking allows the beans to cook faster, absorb seasoning better, and allows you to better monitor doneness by actually seeing their color brighten as they cook.
How to get the Greenest Fava Beans Ever:
1. Shell the beans. Discard any that seem yellow or discolored.
2. Shuck the beans.
3. Fill a large pot fitted with a blanching basket or metal steamer plate with generously salted, rapidly boiling water.
4. Fill a large bowl or another large pot with ice water.
5. Cook the fava beans in boiling water. Make sure there is enough water so that it comes right back to a boil after adding the beans.
6. Once the beans turn bright green, taste a few to make sure they are cooked. Lift the beans out of the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice water. This will stop them from overcooking and will preserve their color.
Try it with this Recipe: Simplest Succotash
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