Rancho Gordo beans ... preliminary report

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Rancho Gordo beans ... preliminary report

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:40 pm

Thanks to the good recommendations on this forum, I went to the Rancho Gordo site last week and ordered three bags of heirloom dry beans - white tepary, flageolets and cannellini. They arrived Thursday, one week to the day after I ordered, which struck me as just a little slow for an $8 flat-rate shipping charge, although in fairness they were right on their estimated arrival for DHL Ground.

The beans all looked great, and I was especially impressed with the cannellini, which are the size and shape of very large white lima beans. So today, a pleasantly cool late spring morning, I made a batch of Tuscan beans, following the soaking and simmering recommendations listed under "Rancho Gordo method" on the rather generic card that came with the legumes: Soak four to six hours (I let it go close to six, being a little suspicious that they didn't have you go overnight), and simmer one to three hours, adding no acidic ingredients or salt until after cooking to avoid toughening.

At that point I went over to an old traditional Tuscan recipe - simmer with a half onion and several sprigs of fresh sage, salting after they're tender and seasoning with ripe, green olive oil and black pepper when served.

I got a little nervous when the beans were still hard and raw after 90 minutes, but just about on the three-hour point they just suddenly snapped to al dente, then beautifully creamy, infused with onion and sage flavors. In short, they were absolutely outstanding, as good as any beans I've ever eaten - and I've made this dish many times before, usually with Great Northern or navy beans or cannellini more the size of Great Northerns. These were better.

Nitpicks: I'd love it if Rancho Gordo sent more detailed information along with each bean variety - it would have been useful to know that the big cannellini were going to take the full three hours, although in retrospect I might have figured that out based on their size.

But, bottom line, these were incredibly good, and I love it that Rancho Gordo has so many different bean types and varieties, including European beans, American heirlooms and even really unusual Southwestern American Indian indigenous varieties like the teparies. I can't wait to try the other bags I purchased, and I'll definitely be going back for more.
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Re: Rancho Gordo beans ... preliminary report

Postby Jenise » Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:33 pm

Hurray for Rancho Gordo! That's exactly how I felt about my white tepary cassoulet, and I'm excited that you had the same reaction: all beans are not equal! 'Artisanal' made a difference yet again (and beans are one of the last places I'd have expected it)!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Rancho Gordo beans ... preliminary report

Postby Chris » Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:13 pm

Steve used to sell his beans at the Napa Farmers' Market - quite an interesting character and so much fun to talk with. I think he's only at the Saturday San Francisco market now in the Ferry Building. I love the Santa Maria Pinquito beans.
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Re: Rancho Gordo beans ... preliminary report

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:05 pm

Chris wrote:Steve used to sell his beans at the Napa Farmers' Market - quite an interesting character and so much fun to talk with.


Thanks for the info, Chris. If you ever run into Steve, tell him that his beans are making friends on the FLDG!

I had some more of the Tuscan-style cannellini for lunch today, and an overnight stay in the fridge followed by re-heating actually improved them - they're even creamier and more infused with the sage flavor, and not at all mushy.

I don't know which to make next - I think I'll save the flageolets for a cassoulet later on, but might come up with something Southwestern for the teparies. Then I'll want to order more before these run out. Yeehaw!
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