You have to enjoy this one. No, seriously, you have to. Because it took me three tries to get through and it better have been worth it…
1 lb. dried lima beans
Soak beans overnight; drain. Cover with boiling salted water and boil slowly 2 to 3 hours till tender. Drain, reserving some of the bean water. In a frying pan cook:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb. sausage meat
Cook until lightly browned, stirring to break into bits. Drain off all but 3 tbsp. of fat. Then add:
2 cans Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
1/2 can lima bean water
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
dash of poultry seasoning
Place limas in a casserole. Cover with the sauce mixture. Bake in moderate oven (350°) 30 minutes. Makes four generous servings.
The first time I soaked a pound of lima beans overnight, we had something come up the next night and I didn’t have time to cook them for three hours. So I left them to soak another night.
After 48 hours, something had gone wrong: my kitchen smelled like a moonshiner had set up shop and they were frothing like mad. Apparently beans start to ferment pretty quickly!
Even repeated rinsing couldn’t get rid of the beery smell, so I threw them in the compost bin to start again.
A few days later, the soaking went fine, but when I tried to cook them, I didn’t add enough water and it all boiled off and the beans on the bottom of the pot burned. More beans for the compost pile.
After a week, I finally, finally managed to get the beans soaked, cooked, non-alcoholic, and non-burnt. So we were ready to actually make the rest of this casserole thing.
This is “bean water,” which is what’s left after boiling beans for a few hours. It’s starchy and tastes like beans, and apparently it’s important to keep some for the casserole.
I sautéed the sausage with the onions quickly.
Adding the tomato sauce and bean water began to dangerously overload my skillet, but with gentle stirring it all stayed intact.
Everything got poured over the beans and it baked for a half hour.
This was quite good. Upon reflection, once I stopped being obsessed with the stupid bean problems, I realized this is essentially a meaty spaghetti sauce over beans instead of pasta. The kids loved it, the adults loved it, and the additional nutrition from beans makes this a pretty good idea for a meal. It can probably even be made in under 24 hours by using canned beans!