Today’s culinary proclamation: A bean is not just a bean.
To the contrary, a great bean can make all the difference in a meal and fill you with such satisfaction you’ll want to become a bean connoisseur like Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo.
I was so excited to open my package from Rancho Gordo when it arrived. Inside were beautiful packages of Red Nightfall Beans, Yellow Indian Woman Beans, Flageolet and Cassoulet beans, and even Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas) and Amaranth Seeds. Such amazing possibilities in one little box!
September let a little breeze cut through the humidity, and that was just enough hint of fall to make me crave a pot of savory red beans and rice. And let me tell you, it was outstanding.
Building up Hearty Pot Liquor
The Red Nightfall Beans were calling to me, so I devised a simple recipe to highlight their flavor. Steve describes the beans on his website as “sometimes known as Mayflower beans. Supposedly these came over from Europe on the Mayflower but it originated in the New World and really I find the theory a little suspect. But they are one of the prettiest beans! They’re also delicious. They hold their shape but almost melt in your mouth when you bite into them. Pink when cooked, they’d be a good in any chili recipe as a side dish at a BBQ. Of course, I like them best with just a dusting of dry cheese and a hot tortilla.” He suggests using this variety for “pot beans, chiles, salads, stews, soups.”
The best way to cook these beans is to let them simmer on low heat all day, but I was in a hurry. So my beans cooked for four hours on high heat in the crock pot, after which I stripped the meat from the bones and adjusted the seasoning and allowed them to cook an hour more. At this point, the pot liquor was rich and savory, with a nice thickness that required no additional help.
The picture of the end result? Sorry. I was too hungry and forgot to take a shot of the newly cooked beans. I suggest serving your cooked beans and smoked ham over your favorite rice (I used a wild and brown rice combination). And just for fun, top them with a healthy dollop of queso cheese.
Beans are high in protein, incredibly simple to make, and filling in a really good way. Stay tuned to Savor the Salt to learn more about the magic of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans.