This year I am on a mission to cook and eat as many different varieties of beans as possible. This is the first in a series about my observations about those beans.
The yellowish brown Tiger’s Eye Beans are so named because they they have a swirl of dark maroon color on them that is said to resemble a tiger’s eye. The beans are about the size of kidney beans, though a bit thinner. While some beans are prized because they hold together after cooking, Tiger’s Eye is a favorite with cooks because the skins all but disappear after cooking and the flesh gets soft and creamy. Those attributes make it a great choice for refried beans, dips and casseroles. The cooked beans have a hearty flavor, and the smooth texture gives them a great mouth feel. Originally from Chile or Argentina, it’s also called Eye of the Tiger by some and Pepa de Zapallo by others.
In the garden, Tiger’s Eye is a Phaseolus vulgaris variety that grows in bush fashion with greenish yellow pods, according to seed catalogues. It can be used as a snap bean, at the fresh shell stage, or allowed to dry for use as a dried bean. I have not grown this one myself, but I certainly would if I had more room in the garden. It’s possible I will give it a try in the future.
In the kitchen, I generally prepare these beans simply. Before cooking I soak them in water for a few hours, from three to eight hours generally. Then I add more water to cover, plus a bit of finely chopped onions and a clove of minced garlic (I use a garlic press). I bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer the beans until they start to soften. At that point, I add salt to taste and any other seasonings, like perhaps a bit of ground cumin and a little chile powder.
At that point, the beans are great as a side dish, stuffed in a burrito, or used in a casserole dish. Or you can do like I often do and make frijoles refritos (refried beans) with them. I heat a little olive oil or lard in a skillet, then add the beans and a little bit of their cooking liquid. I use the back of a wooden spoon to mash the beans while they heat, mashing and stirring until I get them to the desired consistency, checking the seasoning as I go and adjusting as necessary. That’s how I prepared the ones in the below photo, which I used to top baked corn tortillas to make tostadas.
I got my Tiger’s Eye beans from the Seed Savers Exchange. They generally have a small but nice selection of cooking beans for sale. The beans are also sometimes available from Purcell Mountain Farms, Elegant Beans and Beyond or Rancho Gordo. Packets of seed for the garden are widely available here in the U.S.
I hope you have enjoyed this review of the Tiger’s Eye beans. I will be back soon with another bean review. In fact, I had the next featured bean for lunch today, in a tasty bean soup. Until then, Happy Growing (and eating) from Happy Acres!