Technical Question about Red Beans with Pickle Meat
I am developing a vegetarian version of red beans with pickle meat. After doing some research, most people say that adding acidic foods to beans makes them tough. Pickle Meat is brined in salt and white vinegar and then is cooked from the get go with the red beans. Can anyone explain how the beans get soft with all the acid from the meat?
I have never experienced beans toughening in the presence of an acid ingredient. I cook white beans with diced tomatoes all the time--the beans always soften. I cook lentils with tamarind; never have the lentils failed to soften in the usual 25 or so minutes. A huge amount of acid might slow the cooking down a bit, but the solution is to just-keep-cooking.
RE: red beans with pickle meat.....the lovely flavor imparted by the pickle meat is mostly salt & fat. Not much acidity/vinegar is present; most folks rinse the brine off of pickled meat before adding it to the pot. Fat + long cooked beans = creamy goodness. The fat can be butter, bacon grease, or even olive oil....in long-cooked red beans, it emulsifies into the cooking liquid and doesn't float on top.
I can't explain the chemistry behind it but my mother always used pickle meat and her beans were always soft and smooth. How long are you cooking? Are you soaking the beans before cooking?
And help me out here, vegetarian with meat? Just using the meat for flavor but not eating the meat?
thanks for the input, it's very helpful. i have a longstanding veg red beans recipe i like, but i wanted to try another one brining soy. there's an excellent product on the market called Soy Curls, which come dry. I want to try to rehydrate them in a brining solution and then add them to the pot. I was worried that the vinegar would give me problems, but it looks like I am good to go with the experiment.