so he began working with local farmers to grow heirloom beans and other ingredients. he started selling at the san francisco ferry building farmer's market and was quickly discovered by many local chefs who became fans of his products. today it is very common to dine in restaurants which emphasize quality local ingredients and see rancho gordo beans on the menu...specialty food shops began carrying the brand...and steve sells on his website...but a highlight for me was last year when he opened his shop here in napa...at last...i can buy the beans as often as i want.
last time i visited rancho gordo i bought three kinds of beans and a bag of posole (hominy). i am going to create a different recipe for each type of beans and post to the blog. i also plan to share more of steve's story with you...he is doing some amazing things...as an example his rancho gordo-Xoxoc project helps small farmers...this deserves a story of its own.
i purchased three heirloom bean varieties...they have any where from 20-30 types available at a given time...so i started with the rio zape, the borlotti and the xoxoc project ayocote negro (black beans). dried heirloom beans are so different from what you find in the grocery store...for one thing they are beautiful...just amazing colors....one of my favorite displays in the rancho gordo shop is a big bowl of dried beans with a sign that says "go on...you know you want to"...it is virtually impossible to refrain from sticking your hand in the beans!! the tactile sensation is too tempting...and it really does feel good... the beans are also incredibly fresh...fresh dried beans taste better and are easier and faster to prepare... i could go on and on...but instead i will share a recipe...and save the rest of the stories for later...
i decided to make my dad's beans...but use the rio zape instead of pinto. rio zape taste a bit like a pinto but with hints of coffee and chocolate. steve sando says "this is the bean that started the whole thing" he tasted one and started the company...definitely the first one to share with you.
so about the bean recipe...it is so simple and delicious you will probably find yourself making beans often. i tweaked the cooking instructions a bit to follow rancho gordo's suggestions. the basic recipe contains very few ingredients...and, honestly...you really want to taste these beans...once i make this recipe i have enough leftover to use in many different dishes....but mostly i eat them as is....with flour tortillas....i love you dad...my dad's beans
1 16 oz package rancho gordo rio zape dried beans (or 16 oz best quality pinto beans)
1 chopped white onion
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 bottle beer
check beans for small pebbles or other foreign matter...discard and then rinse in cool water. place beans in large stockpot and cover with two inches of water. soak for 4-6 hours.
meanwhile, sauté onion and carrot in olive oil until soft. add jalapeños and sauté for another minute or two...do not season.once beans have completed their soaking time add onion mixture to the stockpot. add beer and stir. beans should be covered with about an inch of liquid. add additional water if needed. bring to a boil for five minutes and then lower heat to simmer. cook until soft (this can take between 1-3 hours). once beans are soft...season to taste with the sea salt and pepper.
**note..the bean broth is delicious....i make a simple pasta dish with the leftover beans & broth stirred into hot pasta...served with shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese...delicious...**
i look forward to sharing other recipes using rancho gordo beans...in the meantime...what is your favorite way to prepare/eat beans?
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