I don’t know if you’ve heard, but beans are having a moment—and as a longtime devotee of the bean-eating lifestyle, I do love to see it. For many people, though, dried beans are anything but exciting. If you’re one of them, I think bean gravy might just change your mind.
This technique comes from Sean Brock’s recipe for Lowcountry Hoppin’ John, which is so ludicrously good that I made two batches in the first week of 2020 alone. After you cook the peas, Brock instructs you to blitz some of them up with cooking liquid and a whole lot of butter to make a rich, buttery, bean-y gravy. Obviously, butter makes everything taste better, but it’s really not the star here. Beans are wonderfully versatile, and eating them in two different formats—whole and gravy-ified—puts their many wonderful qualities on full display. A perfectly cooked bean is a textural marvel, but the gravy shows off just how good they taste.
I firmly believe that all dishes benefit from some type of sauce, but I still was unprepared for just how effective this particular sauce is. A little richness is never a bad thing when you’re working with low-fat ingredients, but I didn’t expect an extra layer of bean flavour to be quite so transformative. Every single bite had it all: tender peas, fluffy rice, and delicious gravy, working in harmony to create the ultimate comfort food. If that doesn’t sell you on beans, I don’t know what will.
You can and should try this with any bean and any fat. The possibilities are seemingly endless: Black beans with sour cream and a bit of lime juice, white beans with brown butter and sage or rosemary, kidneys with coconut milk and warm spices, or pintos with bacon fat and a splash of beer all sound pretty damn good to me. The next time you cook a big pot of beans, scoop out a cup each of beans and their cooking liquid, add 3 or 4 tablespoons of fat, and purée with a blender. Season to taste, pour over your rice and beans, and be amazed at just how luxurious a bowl of beans can be.
This article has been updated since its original publication.