Mom’s Millet & Black Beans

My Mother has been in self-isolation pretty much since the pandemic set foot in Canada.  At this point, her larder is pretty limited.  So she supplied me with a short list of what she did have and the challenge is then to make something simple and tasty from those ingredients.

This recipe may not win prizes for fancy, but it does score on the comfort-o-meter with the warmth that only comes from long cooking.  Furthermore, from a nutritional standpoint, this stew is solid; since millet and black beans have  complimentary amino acid profiles providing a complete protein.

And while you can just eat this straight up out of the pot (as I did making it!), it also makes a fabulous stuffing for a wrap of any kind: my fave is using lightly steamed collard or broccoli leaves.  You can also use the mix to stuff peppers or squash and serve smothered in a creamy nut sauce should you so desire.

Yield: 8 cups

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thinly (cross-wise or lengthwise, up to you)
  • 1/2 lb of cabbage, shredded and the long shreds cut into 1″ lengths, 4 cups
  • 1 cup millet (ideally, dry-toast it at 300F in a dish until aromatic, this will help give it a nutty taste and fluffy rather than sticky texture)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, well drained and rinsed (you don’t want black stew do you?)
  • 3-1/4 cup hot vegetable bouillon (the salted stuff.  and make sure it’s hot as this will help make the millet fluffy rather than sticky in texture)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (up to 1 tablespoon if you like them)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (for a more neutral taste) or chili  powder (for a more Southwestern twist)
  • salt
  • ume plum vinegar (optional)

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200F (or Mom: get a slow cooker out and at ready, and make sure you mask the steam vent so all the moisture stays in the cooker).
  2. Heat a Dutch oven or oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat.  If you’re doing the slow cooker thing, you just need a pot with a lid.  When hot, add the oil and the mustard seeds.  Cover and let the mustard seeds pop, this should take 30 seconds or so.
  3. Uncover and quickly add the onions and cabbage.  Stir to coat everything in the oil and then cook, stirring often, until there are some charred bits happening to your level of liking.                                                                                                         IMG_4209
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the hot stock to deglaze the dark stuff off the bottom of the pan.  Lower heat to medium while you’re at it.
  5. Add the paprika (or chili powder) and millet and stir to coat everything evenly in red powder and millet seeds.                                                                                 IMG_4210
  6. Add the rest of the hot stock (3 cups, a bit more if you like) to the pot along with the cooked beans.  If you’re going the slow cooker route, then transfer the mixture from the pot to the slow cooker and add the hot stock and cooked beans.  In either case, stir to mix.                       IMG_4212
  7. Add salt.  I added about 3/4 teaspoon (I don’t measure…) and then a tablespoon of ume once the dish was cooked (that I did measure).  Use your better judgment and personal taste for salt to guide you.
  8. Cover tightly and bake (or slow cook) for 3 to 4 hours, until everything is meltingly soft and the millet is light and fluffy.
  9. If using the ume, add it now, and stir to mix throughout evenly.
  10. Serve as desired; or use to stuff something or as the filling for a wrap of some kind.

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