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Heather
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I got a new shipment of heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo right before I left for London. Steve's beans are the freshest, tastiest (and prettiest) dried beans we've ever had. They're relatively expensive, but a $5 bag makes at least two meals for us. The kids love all the different colors and shapes. My favorites are the Ojo de Cabra and the pinto beans.

Anyone have any favorite dried bean recipes to share?

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I just received my first shipment from Rancho Gordo two weeks ago:). Athough I've loved all of the beans I've tried, my favorite so far is the Good Mother Stallard.

As far as recipes, I've kept to simmering the beans with a bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns, adding a little sea salt after the beans have cooked. Then I add them to a salad, rice. quinoa, or soup. (I added a chili pod to one batch, which added a nice bit of heat.) I've accumulated several recipes to try, so hopefully I'll have a favorite recipe to share soon:).

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I somehow managed to double post here in attempting to add to the old message :o . Let's try this again.

This is it. It originally called for a particular brand, which was quite good. I found them at the Giant a couple of times in the late 1980s or so and could never locate them again. When I found the RG site and ordered their pinquito beans, I was able to get the recipe to come out right again. I've tried other kinds of beans, but pinquito beans really work best.

BARBECUE BEANS

(16 servings)

2 pounds Poquitos Santa Maria BBQ Beans [pinquito beans]

1 envelope chili mix [2-3 Tbsp. chili powder]

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 pound bacon, diced

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 to 4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 1/2 cups tomato juice

Cover beans generously (by about 2 inches) with water, bring to a boil, and add

salt and pepper. Turn heat to simmer and cook 2 hours or until tender.

Saute bacon, onion, garlic, seasonings, chili mix, tomato juice, and ground

beef. Add mixture to beans and simmer 1 hour and serve.

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Frijoles Refritos

Small onion, chopped and sauteed in 1-2 T of lard

1 lb. dry pintos

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. Mexican oregano, ground

3-4 allspice berries

1 small carrot, chunked

1 sm. celery stalk with leaves

2 bay leaves

Cover with 2 inches of water and cook until tender, adding 1 tsp. salt after about 1/2 hour. Keep adding water as needed.

When beans are very tender, remove bay leaves and celery and puree with a stick blender. Continue to simmer until optimum thickness is achieved, adding water if needed. Add salt to taste.

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Frijoles Refritos

Small onion, chopped and sauteed in 1-2 T of lard

1 lb. dry pintos

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. Mexican oregano, ground

3-4 allspice berries

1 small carrot, chunked

1 wm. celery stalk with leaves

2 bay leaves

Cover with 2 inches of water and cook until tender, adding 1 tsp. salt after about 1/2 hour. Keep adding water as needed.

When beans are very tender, remove bay leaves and celery and puree with a stick blender. Continue to simmer until optimum thickness is achieved, adding water if needed. Add salt to taste.

Do you crush the allspice or just let it get soft and grind it with the stick blender?

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Cover beans generously (by about 2 inches) with water, bring to a boil, and add

salt and pepper. Turn heat to simmer and cook 2 hours or until tender.

Saute bacon, onion, garlic, seasonings, chili mix, tomato juice, and ground

beef. Add mixture to beans and simmer 1 hour and serve.

No need to soak? The recipe sounds delicious, by the way. Beans AND bacon AND ground beef! A smoked pork hock might be good in there too.
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Do you crush the allspice or just let it get soft and grind it with the stick blender?

I should have mentioned that when I'm stirring the beans, looking for the bay leaves, I pull out the allspice berries when I find them. Otherwise, they show up when you are pureeing. They can be a little bit overwhelming to bite into.

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No need to soak? The recipe sounds delicious, by the way. Beans AND bacon AND ground beef! A smoked pork hock might be good in there too.
I don't soak Rancho Gordo beans. They don't really need it.

And thanks for the refried beans recipe, Zora. I'll try it this weekend, with some homemade tortillas. :o

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No need to soak?
Russ Parsons, in How to Read a French Fry, says soaking beans is unnecessary.

Also, while Rancho Gordo is a good mail order source for "heirloom" type beans, are there any local sources? I know La Cuisine in Old Town has about 30 different varieties, including the elusive flageolet. Are there any other places that stock a variety of beans?

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Russ Parsons, in How to Read a French Fry, says soaking beans is unnecessary.

Also, while Rancho Gordo is a good mail order source for "heirloom" type beans, are there any local sources? I know La Cuisine in Old Town has about 30 different varieties, including the elusive flageolet. Are there any other places that stock a variety of beans?

I've found heirloom beans at Dean and Deluca, smaller size packages than RG. I think the last flageolets I made were from D&D, but I can't swear to it. They were also quite fresh and didn't need long soaking. (I usually have no idea how old my beans are, and the older ones--cheap huge sacks of goya--really do seem to need soaking. I had beans so old one time that it took me close to 2 days of soaking and cooking to get them done. Not really worth it :o )
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Frijoles Refritos

Small onion, chopped and sauteed in 1-2 T of lard

1 lb. dry pintos

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. Mexican oregano, ground

3-4 allspice berries

1 small carrot, chunked

1 sm. celery stalk with leaves

2 bay leaves

Cover with 2 inches of water and cook until tender, adding 1 tsp. salt after about 1/2 hour. Keep adding water as needed.

When beans are very tender, remove bay leaves and celery and puree with a stick blender. Continue to simmer until optimum thickness is achieved, adding water if needed. Add salt to taste.

I have these on the stove right now, and they smell delicious. We'll have them for dinner with homemade flour tortillas.

Am I understanding correctly that the celery gets fished out, but the carrots stay in? And they are partially covered as the recipe doesn't give any instructions.

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I have these on the stove right now, and they smell delicious. We'll have them for dinner with homemade flour tortillas.

Am I understanding correctly that the celery gets fished out, but the carrots stay in? And they are partially covered as the recipe doesn't give any instructions.

I usually puree the carrot in with the beans, but fish out the celery, because it is stringy and doesn't puree as reliably. It doesn't matter either way. You could fish out the carrot before pureeing the beans. All the flavor is in the bean liquid anyway. It's just more fiber, really. My recipes don't involve a lot of precision, as you can tell.

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I usually puree the carrot in with the beans, but fish out the celery, because it is stringy and doesn't puree as reliably. It doesn't matter either way. You could fish out the carrot before pureeing the beans. All the flavor is in the bean liquid anyway. It's just more fiber, really. My recipes don't involve a lot of precision, as you can tell.
Thanks Zora!

I chucked a couple of peeled garlic cloves in too, and will fish them out with the celery.

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The kids aren't going to let me get away with beans from a can anymore. :o

Look for La Costeña Brand Refried Beans (pinto or black, though I prefer the pintos) in a 20.5 oz. red labelled can with a pop top. They sell them at Shopper's Food Warehouse, Rodman's, and various Latin markets. They are the closest to homemade that I've ever found. I keep them around for last-minute Mexican meals or burritos. Contents include pork lard, onion, jalapeño and spices. Made in Mexico.

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Where would you go to source good chickpeas? I had a wonderful cod dish last night at Black's that I'd like to recreate this weekend. It was on a bed of chickpeas with garlic, kale, tomato, etc. These garbanzo's were a perfect al dente, so to speak.

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Where would you go to source good chickpeas? I had a wonderful cod dish last night at Black's that I'd like to recreate this weekend. It was on a bed of chickpeas with garlic, kale, tomato, etc. These garbanzo's were a perfect al dente, so to speak.
Whole Foods doesn't have dried chickpeas in bulk? I'd try a Middle Eastern market.
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Where would you go to source good chickpeas? I had a wonderful cod dish last night at Black's that I'd like to recreate this weekend. It was on a bed of chickpeas with garlic, kale, tomato, etc. These garbanzo's were a perfect al dente, so to speak.

Dried or canned?

I usually buy Goya dried. Chickpeas really are better if you soak overnight, unlike other beans, where it doesn't seem to be necessary. I haven't done what my Middle Eastern cookbooks recommend, which is to add some baking soda to the soaking water and then rinse them well before cooking, which supposedly helps them become more tender. Sounds like you like them with a bit of tooth, anyway.

I tend to use Goya canned, although I must admit I occasionally buy other brands when they are on sale.

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Where would you go to source good chickpeas? I had a wonderful cod dish last night at Black's that I'd like to recreate this weekend. It was on a bed of chickpeas with garlic, kale, tomato, etc. These garbanzo's were a perfect al dente, so to speak.
I've made a few recipes recently that called for dried chickpeas, and I used Arrowhead Mills brand, which I hadn't tried before. I thought they were really good (firm, not mushy).

I thought I had bought them at Whole Foods, but I looked all over the store when I wanted to get more and didn't see them. I think I must have gotten them at Yes! on Capitol Hill.

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My favorite beans are red beans and rice the way my grandmother served them in her restaurant. When I asked her for her recipe, she promised to leave it to me in her will, but didn't. Took it to her grave.

My mother says that my grandmother's secret was a cupful of bacon grease. Haven't actually tried that but somehow doubt it.

Second place to Popeye's red beans and rice. The recipe was created by Warren LeRuth, a former famous NO chef with a great restaurant, LeRuth's. Warren did this after he sold LeRuth's but before he was completely ready to retire. LeRuth also had a wonderful ice cream (frozen custard?) stand with toppings like freshly toasted pecans and real whipped cream. So I don't feel too bad about loving Popeye's red beans and rice.

Third place is an old standby, lentil soup with chopped spinach and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Cannellini.

Not worth a topic of their own, so I'll ask here: anyone have a good, local source (D.C. preferred) for decent ones that aren't so old they take forever to cook?

Haven't had any for a while. WFM no longer carries them in bulk--at least not at P St. or G'town. None at Giant or Safeway. Nada even at Rodman's though Northern white beans are an option.

I've not had good luck with the supply at Vace, probably because the bins serve primarily as percussive instruments for small children.

Thanks!

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My mother says that my grandmother's secret was a cupful of bacon grease. Haven't actually tried that but somehow doubt it.

I don't. Not for one second. Although it might've been in the form of rendered/browned bacon or salt pork (to get some browning flavors in as well).

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Cannellini.

Not worth a topic of their own, so I'll ask here: anyone have a good, local source (D.C. preferred) for decent ones that aren't so old they take forever to cook?

Haven't had any for a while. WFM no longer carries them in bulk--at least not at P St. or G'town. None at Giant or Safeway. Nada even at Rodman's though Northern white beans are an option.

I've not had good luck with the supply at Vace, probably because the bins serve primarily as percussive instruments for small children.

Thanks!

I bought the ones I used in my cassoulet at Balducci's on New Mexico Ave. An overnight soak helps, and I recently read in Fabio Trabocchi's cookbook (though haven't tried it) that a teaspoon of baking soda in the soaking water helps to soften the beans.

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Cannellini beans at Wegman's (Fairfax) move pretty fast. Tonight, I had to bend down and reach way back to get some because the front of the display was empty. We soak overnight, then cook in the slow cooker for six hours (in chicken broth with ham hocks). Lots of broth, otherwise they will burn. They still need to be stirred a couple of times in the slow cooker. I can run home at lunchtime or my mom, who lives with us, will do it.

The flavor and texture is wonderful. The creamy texture is what I was trying to recapture from my late-lamented, never-to-be-duplicated recipe from my grandmother. In fact, I've given up completely on red beans, and cannellini beans are my mainstays. For red beans we use azuki, which are not at all temperamental. Not creamy, though.

I am going to cook some cannellini beans tomorrow, and a pot of Navy beans for a side-by-side comparison.

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New favorite greens for lentil soup, escarole instead of spinach. Lots of carrot, too. I am mixing red, green, and French lentils, very nice.

Balducci's/Dean and Deluca cost too much for pedestrian items like beans. JMHO. Beans are poor people food, and also food for smart people who know about nutrition, but for people who love luxury, beans isn't what they are going for.

The Balducci's in Alexandria doesn't have a high enough turnover for beans to have really fresh ones, is my educated guess. If you want to pay $5 a pound for beans, well, OK, I hope you are saving enough on gas to make it worth it, but I'd say go to a store where poor people shop, that's where you will find your really fresh beans.

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I don't soak Rancho Gordo beans. They don't really need it.
I finally got my first shipment from RG. How long does it take to cook them? Hours? Is it feasible to make a pot on a weeknight? Also, how many servings are in a bag?

Also, what in the world do I do with ponzole? Most of the recipes I have found need bacon for flavor, and I am worried olive oil or butter won't work.

Finally, what do you serve with the beans? I want them to be the center of the meal, but if I serve KG a bowl of beans, no matter how good, he'll want to know where the rest of the food is. I figure I can always throw a fried egg on top.

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I buy most of my beans and lentils at El grande (they have a very good hispanic bean section and indian/middle eastern bean section).

Stuff I have currently in pantry are fava, red kidney, navy, black, lima, black eye peas, chick peas and bunch of lentils. My favorite are the lentils (more than beans). Much easier and faster to cook and really good in soups and as indian Dal.

However, if I had to pick a bean, right now it is lima beans. Had lima beans and brown rice last night. Beans cooked very simply in chicken stock with onion, garlic and blk pepper. Was really good and creamy. I am still looking for a really good simple blk bean soup recipe if anyone has one.

BTW, the wife used about a pound of the blk beans when cooking pie crust. Can I use those beans or is it a wasted effort since these have been "roasted" in the oven.

Soup

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Also, what in the world do I do with ponzole? Most of the recipes I have found need bacon for flavor, and I am worried olive oil or butter won't work.
Here's an answer for pozole - but there's that pork problem. Maybe a green chile chicken version? Here is a recipe from Rancho Gordo for posole verde. Sounds pretty good (and can be a vegetarian dish).

How about using smoked turkey instead of bacon? Seeing as that's the new healthy substitute for bacon/fatback in things like collard greens, seems like it would work with beans too.

As for what to serve with them - I did a version of Waitman's white bean/tomato/herb concoction last week and topped it with some grilled chicken sausages. It was filling and pretty healthy too, along with tasting good!

Keep us posted on any ideas you come up with :mellow:

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I finally got my first shipment from RG. How long does it take to cook them? Hours? Is it feasible to make a pot on a weeknight? Also, how many servings are in a bag?

Finally, what do you serve with the beans? I want them to be the center of the meal, but if I serve KG a bowl of beans, no matter how good, he'll want to know where the rest of the food is. I figure I can always throw a fried egg on top.

Tell us more about the dried beans you ordered and the kinds of cookbooks you have at home.

It sounds as if dried beans are not standard in your repertoire. If new to them, you might wish to start out by soaking them overnight and relying on a recipe recommended by someone whose opinion you trust.

However, as Heather said, fresh beans like RG's should be perfectly fine to cook by skipping the soak which is mandatory primarily for chickpeas or old beans. I tend to plan ahead and play it safe with all but Romano/borlotti and pinto beans. Black beans can sometimes take forever.

How long they take to cook depends on type, age and cooking method. I've described my standard method before (perhaps when Porcupine asked for recipe for a minestrone soup w farro and chard): rinse off the beans, add a small strip of kombu and a few aromatics to water (e.g. small quartered onion, sliced clove of garlic, bay leaf and sprigs of parsley), bring all to boil on top of stove and then cover and pop into slow oven (250 to 300 F). Can take just under an hour if soaked or even 1 1/2 hours soaked. Can take 3 hours. Just depends. I like adding salt after an hour and let beans cool in the liquid before draining them. Reserve cooking stock for soups or rice.

You should also take some vegetarian cookbooks out of the library or given what you say about your sweetie, some Italian/French/Mediterranean, Mexican or Middle-Eastern books that appeal to you since there are plenty of cuisines which combine meat and bean. Also consider Southern cookbooks for the mess of greens and cornbread combo that can be done w beans instead of country ham on the side.

Couscous with chickpeas and meat. Plenty of other types of stews that combine beans, meat and vegetables along with vegetarian ones.

Hummus. Cassoulet and cassoulet-type dishes.

Ribollita and other bean-hearty soups that don't call for pork.

Cf. Marcella Hazan's Essentials for bean soups. I love the one that calls for cannellini, garlic, a little olive oil, water and parsley, period. She taught me the oven method I swear by. (Beans can break up stovetop, though you can do that, too.) Cf. anything by Paula Wolfert or Rick Bayless, including *Mexican Everyday* for something quick. Deborah Madison's *Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone* has good recipes; I like the black bean chili from *Greens*, too.

All those books tell you how much to cook for how many people.

Cf. Rancho Gordo's own web site, too.

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I finally got my first shipment from RG. How long does it take to cook them? Hours? Is it feasible to make a pot on a weeknight? Also, how many servings are in a bag?

Also, what in the world do I do with ponzole? Most of the recipes I have found need bacon for flavor, and I am worried olive oil or butter won't work.

I generally soak the RG beans about 4 or so hours. They don't need a longer soak. They're very fresh. You can probably cook them without soaking, but they will take longer to cook. I generally cook them 1-2 hours, depending on what I am doing with them.

I've found that adding smoked turkey parts about halfway through cooking enhances the flavor. I've only tried this with the mayacoba beans, but it should be more generally applicable. They recommend cooking them with onion, carrot, and celery, using the soaking liquid to cook them. Check the web site.

There are also directions for posole on the web site, I believe. I've gotten postcards in my orders with directions for cooking it as well, and I should still have one lying around. I can look. I've made it but forget any specifics. I don't know if smoked turkey works for you in that application, but it might.

Finally, what do you serve with the beans? I want them to be the center of the meal, but if I serve KG a bowl of beans, no matter how good, he'll want to know where the rest of the food is. I figure I can always throw a fried egg on top.
It depends on what kind of beans they are. I'll serve the pinquitos with tacos/enchiladas/etc. I use Rio Zape in chili. You can put the beans in soup, mix them with rice, or whatever you typically do with beans. If you don't want to serve them completely alone, they're nice with the pot liquor, some bread, and a big salad.

ETA: The cooking instructions for the beans, plus some posole recipes, are here.

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The Balducci's in Alexandria doesn't have a high enough turnover for beans to have really fresh ones, is my educated guess. If you want to pay $5 a pound for beans, well, OK, I hope you are saving enough on gas to make it worth it, but I'd say go to a store where poor people shop, that's where you will find your really fresh beans.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just ordered several varieties (marrow, Christmas lima, giant white lima, scarlet runner, Good Mother Stallard) from Rancho Gordo. $5 a pop PLUS $8 shipping. BUT the idea of really fresh dried beans appeals to me.
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Made the RG borlotti beans yesterday. Very nice. Pardon the apostasy but I added a couple of smoked ham hocks after about 1 hour of cooking and cooked an additional hour. Very, very good beans. They would have been lovely with out the meat. But do add a bit of onion, carrot, and celery. Cook gently.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just ordered several varieties (marrow, Christmas lima, giant white lima, scarlet runner, Good Mother Stallard) from Rancho Gordo. $5 a pop PLUS $8 shipping. BUT the idea of really fresh dried beans appeals to me.

Just about every time I have been to Super H in Fairfax, though I am not a regular shopper there, I have found fresh cranberry (borlotti) beans. They have to be removed from the pods before cooking, but haven't yet been dried, so take much less time to cook--about half an hour or so. Now that's what I call really fresh dried beans. I imagine that you could buy a huge amount of them, shell them and dry them yourself for longer term storage.

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Interesting Note – Since the chef also owns Republic of Beans it is a must to include at least one legume dish when you order.

Caught the recent Beans episode of Modern Marvels, and was mesmerized by chef Cesare Casella's enthusiastic descriptions of many of the heirloom Italian varieties that he directly imports for his Republic of Beans shop and website. I see that he also brings in farro, and Vialone Nano. Has anybody tried cooking with his items?

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To me beans and lental are the super food. Fortunately my kids love beans so we eat a lot of variety and the cooking tends to be very simple. few aromatics and salt and pepper. With good bread or rice, it is an amazing easy meal. we keep about 10 different varieties of beans and lentles in the pantry. Our favorite recipe is for black bean and is pretty simple. Soak bean overnight. In a heavy pot, saute garlic and onion with olive oil (I sometimes use bacon grease or duck fat), cook beans for about 1.5 hours with some bay leaves. I use water as the cooking liquid. I don't want them to fall apart. I'll mash a few to make it creamy but I want the shape a very slight bite feel to it. add salt at the end to taste - you don't need a lot. I also add some acid to brighten the flavor.

To serve, ladle over rice and sprinkle endless options (raw onion work well, bacon, chives, etc).

YUM!!!

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