How do you look for a recipe?
With me, I usually have a kind-of-a-something at the back of my mind.
In this case, something with smooth, tender beans forming a backdrop to a long-cooked and savory stew. Not too liquid; I hate watery food. Something where beans and bones and connective tissue have been cooked long enough to produce a suave, smooth result.
So I got all the odds and ends of dried beans out of the pantry and then searched http://www.tvfood/com under the rubric "dried beans".
Alton Brown had basic baked beans, which might have involved building the ketchup itself from scratch. Bobby Flay added thirteen different spices to a hunk of filet mignon before incinerating it on the grill and, lastly, putting a scoop of French white beans next to it on the plate. (Bean recipe hyperlinked).
Robert Irvine, the muscle-bound Briton from "Dinner: Impossible," had something starchy that started with canned beans. I like Tyler Florence, but there's an Applebee's right in Kingston so why should I make one of his recipes? All of Paula Deen's beans required a ham hock. I am not kosher but I have my limits.
Emeril it was who finally supplied the recipe. Based upon a "baker's casserole" which, just as I had hoped, cooked beans long and hard in a savory liquid, added vegetables and browned meat and finally finished the whole thing in the oven unden a blanket of bread crumbs and grated parmigiana, his Lamb and White Bean Casserole gave my dutch oven (my whole kitchen, really) a true workout, and produced a wonderful dish.
So what are my research guidelines for a finding a recipe?
1) It looks do-able--even if the techniques are unfamiliar, I think I can handle them. And they don't call for any equipment I don't already have.
2) My "mind's palate" (like "mind's eye") finds it tasty. Lamb and beans, yay! Mackeral and egg whites, phooey!
3) The user reviews are pretty good. Sure, there are always soreheads who didn't really understand the recipe (just as there are people who loved it so much they sent in three positive reviews, thereby skewing the results), but on the whole the reviews will give you a pretty fair idea of what's involved with making, serving and eating this dish.
4) For me, right now: Is it affordable? For ultimate affordability in my one-person low-income household, any dish should use a few things I already have (those beans, olive oil, celery, canned tomato--nothing out of the ordinary here, just usual pantry goods), not involve any new equipment (believe me, you do not want to run right out and buy a $175 cast-iron dutch oven, just as you do not want to cook this in a disposable aluminum roaster), and, if possible, supply enough leftovers for a few more meals. (It should also be tasty enough that I'd actually like to eat those meals.)
Recipe and photos will follow in the next post. Right now, I need to get a plate of this casserole!