How Not to Make Hummus: Ricer Edition
I like the hummus recipe in Cook’s Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe. It is simple; a drained can of chickpeas, two tablespoons of lemon juice, a quarter cup each of olive oil, tahini and water, a teaspoon of salt and a dash of cayenne and a clove or two of garlic all go in the food processor–thirty seconds later you have creamy hummus.
Given that I was perfectly happy with this recipe I naturally had to try a new technique. Sure, the food processor hummus was creamy after being chopped up at high speed for a while, but couldn’t I make it creamier by eliminating those pesky bean skins, leaving nothing but velvety cotyledon? But how to get rid of the skins, short of shucking each bean by hand? A ricer! It works for potatoes, right? Plus, no need to cleanup all those food processor parts! And so I popped open a can of chickpeas and in short order had this mess on my hands:
The first thing I discovered on this fool’s journey is that human beings of normal strength cannot rice a whole can of chickpeas at once. After removing half the beans I was able to make some progress: slow, maddeningly slow, progress. I could get about one good squeeze out of the beans before the device would seize up, forcing me to scrape my meager bean squeezings off the sides and then redistribute the mash within the ricer so that I could repeat the whole process thirty seconds later. After the third or fourth time doing this I knew it was not worth it. But I’m no quitter either. After probably 20 minutes I had extracted all the bean I was going to.
A lot of work to be sure, but worth it for skinless, really creamy hummus, right? I stirred in the rest of the ingredients and gave the hummus a taste. This was the grainiest hummus I have ever tasted. Beating it with a whisk (whipping it into shape?) helped a bit but my feeble human hands could not give the hummus the airiness that the machine can achieve. Incidentally, a ricer clogged with bean refuse is much harder to clean than a food processor.
Lesson from all this: when something is working you should leave well enough alone. At least until I get my hands on a food mill…