Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Some Beans Really Are Better
Sometime I use a little pork to flavor the pot but lately I've been cooking our beans with just a splash of olive oil, a whole head of garlic (cut in half), a peeled quartered onion, 2 bay leaves, about 5 whole peppercorns, a sprig of rosemary and chopped fresh sage leaves. With water to cover, the whole pot comes to a boil and then is left to simmer until the pre-soaked beans are tender, usually about 40 minutes or so. The flavorful results are great to eat on their own or have on hand to use in salads, spreads and stews.
Today I reached back in the cabinet for a pound of Rancho Gordo Good Mother Stallard Beans. Rancho Gordo is a Napa, CA heirloom bean grower and food merchant that for many years has been spreading the gospel of heirloom flavors, local agriculture, and seed saving. With flashy graphics and clever copy their little bags are eye-catching at the market or on grocery shelves and sometimes when I am feeling rich or reckless (they are about $6 a pound) I reach for one. The rich, deep, vegetative flavor puts other beans to shame. James said -- without prompting or knowing about my bean buying extravagance -- that these might be the best pot of beans I ever made.
To paraphrase a certain pizza chain owner -- better ingredients, better beans -- so much for the bulk bin.