Rancho Gordo

by Kelsi Leitz in


 

Rancho Gordo beans are talked about a lot; often mentioned in Bon Appétit, Thomas Keller uses them at his restaurants as I am sure many chefs do. And with good reason. If you never thought beans have any flavor, or if you've had your share of mushy, mealy beans that leave a lot to be desired, then you must try the heirloom ones from Rancho Gordo. You will find yourself cooking with beans more than ever. Stock your pantry with the Cannellini beans and the perfect Pinto. The simplest preparations really bring out their star qualities.

For the Pinto try this:

In a large pot, sauté a whole chopped onion and three chopped cloves of garlic in a little olive oil or bacon fat until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add one package of Pinto beans, rinsed and picked over for small rocks, to the pot. Cover the beans with chicken broth by an inch or so. If I'm using a slow-cooker it ends up being about 4 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until the beans are soft about two hours. (Pre-soaking will shorten the cooking time.) Continue to add broth to the pot if necessary to keep the beans submerged.

When they are getting tender and close to being done start adding kosher or sea salt. About 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons or more if necessary. Keep tasting and don't be afraid to add more salt until they are very flavorful. Most of us home cooks tend to shy away a bit from salt and don't use nearly enough to bring out all the flavors. But salt is the most important ingredient here transforming the beans from bland to utterly delicious.

Serve with cotija and chopped cilantro with warm corn tortillas. They continue to taste even better after a few days in the fridge...if they don't get eaten before then.