Black Bean Mashup
In the great state of Indiana, on the banks of the Ohio River, is a little place called Madison. And in that little place called Madison is a terrific restaurant called The 605 Grille. And behind the bar and in the kitchen of The 605, you will sometimes find two of my favorite people on the planet.
I hope if my pals hadn’t had a connection to this place I would have found my way there on another visit to the closest thing I have to a hometown because of the fabulous things they are doing with local food at The 605 (and I do mean local, like in-county local, like just-across-the-river-I-can-see-it-from-here local). I say “another visit” because, well, there was a lot of drinking happening on the particular visit I’m talking about. Enough that I might not have found myself much farther down Main Street than Hinkle’s had I not wanted to see those two awesome people and the restaurant that has become their favorite as well as their home away from home.
The drinking that was a required component of boat racin’ was compounded by the kind of drinking you can only do in a small town where you know every other person who walks in the door and the person pouring the drinks and you haven’t seen any of them in far too long. So that might be why I ordered the black bean hummus in the first place (I can get fussy about things being called hummus that are not hummus, and since the word “hummus” comes from the Arabic word for chickpeas, I usually start argument that begin with something about how stirring in some tahnini doesn’t make it hummus. But the bartender friend declared it “decidedly awesome” and I trust him, especially on matters of food). The drinking might also be why I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask The 605 Grille’s owners, Tom and Sherry, for or about the recipe, in spite of talking to them for quite a while. Though I do think I told them it was decidedly awesome.
But the drinking didn’t stop me from stewing about getting my hands on some more of that black bean hummus. Weeks later, I could still taste it in my mind. And I kind of craved it. Can you crave something you have only eaten once? I guess so. I was daydreaming about this stuff. And since the 579 miles that lie between my house in DC and 605 West Main Street in Madison make running out to get some out of the question, I set out to reconstruct it from a vivid food memory.
There was a little trial and error with the spices (raw garlic is fine for chickpeas, but roasted garlic and black beans are made for each other; smoked paprika puts it over the top). And then a lot more trial and error to balance the amount of beans with the amount of sauce (some sauce may have been eaten with a spoon. But there simply were not enough beans! I’m sure you understand). And a couple batches considering canned vs dried beans (the texture is noticeably more pleasant with dried, worth the time investment). By the time I was done, I wasn’t even sure how faithful to the original I had been, but is satisfies the craving every time, so my mouth is telling my brain something is right. And if it’s not even close to the 605 recipe at this point, I hope it’s at least a respectable homage.
As for cooking the beans and roasting the garlic, they can be done at the same time and while it takes an hour, you don’t have to stand over them. If you somehow have roasted garlic but aren’t up for cooking beans, you can use canned, but to keep the bean-to-sauce ratio where I wanted, it came out at about a can and a half of well-rinsed black beans, and I can’t in good conscience recommend such an odd measurement.
If you’re going to roast garlic, you might as well do a couple of heads so you have some to slather on things at will. And your house will smell awesome.
I can’t honestly say if this serves two or more than two, only that however many people are around will eat it until it is gone. And then you will make more.
And if you do find yourself in Madison, Ind., make sure you get over to The 605 and ask if Angie and Elijah are around. Definately order the black bean hummus; it’s decidedly dream-about-it awesome.
605-ish Black Bean Dip
Makes about 3 cups
1 1/2 cup dried black beans
4 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons tahini
2 Tablespoons lemon juice (about one medium lemon)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 scallions, thinly sliced and divided
After soaking overnight (or with your preferred quick-soak method), cook the beans in three cups of salted water, bringing to a boil then reducing the heat to a simmer and cooking, covered, until beans are cooked through and tender enough to easily smoosh between your thumb and forefinger, about one hour.
Crush beans, as much as desired (I like a mix of nearly whole and completely crushed beans but to each his own), with a potato masher in a large bowl. If your potato masher has bean-sized holes, try the back of a fork.
Blitz garlic, yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, paprika and salt with an immersion blender or small food processor. If it is too thick, thin with a teaspoon of water at at time, reblending to check consistency. It should be thick but pour easily, like pancake batter.
Pour sauce over beans, sprinkle on half the scallions and stir until well mixed. Sprinkle remaining scallions on top and chill for an hour (if you can restrain yourself that long). Serve with pita, tortilla chips, carrot sticks or just a spoon.