Cranberry Beans Done Two Ways. Hello, Rancho Gordo...that's your cue.

marilynfl

Moderator
I've seen Rancho Gordo pop up on occasion, but since I wasn't (or...didn't used to be) a bean eater, I skipped those. Then I read an article about Rancho Gordo in the New Yorker. Then I found them in Asheville because I'm apparently susceptible to influence. Then my niece sent a Rancho Gordo gift package.

It was obvious fate wanted me to try these beans.

So I finally did.

Ya. Totally worth it.

I soaked a one-pound bag and then split the uncooked beans into two recipes to test. Happily 1 pound of dry beans = 2.75 Cups dry and 5.5 cups soaked, so it was easy to split. The first (and my favorite) is from Rancho Gordo's site:

Cranberry Beans with Garam Masala

1/2 cup white onion, small diced
1/4 cup carrot, small diced
1/4 celery, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sweet potato, small diced
2 tbl. ghee or clarified butter
2 tbl. Garam Masala
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup Cranberry Beans (soaked 4-8 hours)
1 tbl. lemon juice
Salt to taste

To prepare: 1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sweat all of the vegetables in the ghee until translucent. 2. Add the Garam Masala and stir to combine. 3. Add the stock and beans and cook, covered, for at least 2 hours, or until beans start to become creamy. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. 4. Serve over Basmati rice and garnish with goats yogurt, mint and cilantro

Garam Masala Beans.jpg

The second recipe came from a fictional book set in New Mexico titled Pie Town by Lynne Hinton. I'd read that using beer with beans is a good thing, but this is not necessarily something I believe in because firstly, I don't like beer. Secondly, I don't like beer. Even though I live near Asheville, the Brewery Capital of America.

So first I had to buy beer.

This random Internet photo (ie: not me) approximates the dilemma I faced trying to find a stupid single bottle of beer for this recipe.
1654452766065.png

Did I want a pilsner? Winter wheat or porter? How about a stout? Lager? IPA? Pale Ale? Wait! There's one called Dragon's Milk! That sounds promising.

Good grief.

I finally picked two 12-ounce cans of varying providence and went to check out. Things were moving along until the cashier charged me $10.99 for one can and $9.99 for the second.

Good grief.
Again.

After I got THAT settled (at $1.66 per can), I followed this recipe:

Oris's Famous Cowboy Beans

4 Cups dry pinto beans
2 slices bacon
1 small can diced green chile
1 medium onion, diced
2 14-oz cans tomatoes
1 bottle dark or amber beer
1 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Soak Beans 8-12 hours. Drain and rinse. Add all ingredient to pot and cover with water. Bring to boil then simmer for 2 hours.

Sounds promising, right? And I'd already scored on the Garam Masala recipe, so this should work, right?
Oh. So not so.

Since I was only making half the recipe, I cut everything down except I forgot to halve the green chile. So the first foremost taste was bitter. Bitter and boring. Then I added herbs (dried and fresh), then something salty, then something sweet, then tomato paste. More broth. More broth flavoring. The end result is...okay but I won't be going down this path again.

Cowboy Beans.jpeg
 
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marg-cdn2

Active member
I've seen Rancho Gordo pop up on occasion, but since I wasn't (or...didn't used to be) a bean eater, I skipped those. Then I read an article about Rancho Gordo in the New Yorker. Then I found them in Asheville because I'm apparently susceptible to influence. Then my niece sent a Rancho Gordo gift package.

It was obvious fate wanted me to try these beans.

So I finally did.

Ya. Totally worth it.

I soaked a one-pound bag and then split the uncooked beans into two recipes to test. Happily 1 pound of dry beans = 2.75 Cups dry and 5.5 cups soaked, so it was easy to split. The first (and my favorite) is from Rancho Gordo's site:

Cranberry Beans with Garam Masala

1/2 cup white onion, small diced
1/4 cup carrot, small diced
1/4 celery, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sweet potato, small diced
2 tbl. ghee or clarified butter
2 tbl. Garam Masala
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup Cranberry Beans (soaked 4-8 hours)
1 tbl. lemon juice
Salt to taste

To prepare: 1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sweat all of the vegetables in the ghee until translucent. 2. Add the Garam Masala and stir to combine. 3. Add the stock and beans and cook, covered, for at least 2 hours, or until beans start to become creamy. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. 4. Serve over Basmati rice and garnish with goats yogurt, mint and cilantro

View attachment 38

The second recipe came from a fictional book set in New Mexico titled Pie Town by Lynne Hinton. I'd read that using beer with beans is a good thing, but this is not necessarily something I believe in because firstly, I don't like beer. Secondly, I don't like beer. Even though I live near Asheville, the Brewery Capital of America.

So first I had to buy beer.

This random Internet photo (ie: not me) approximates the dilemma I faced trying to find a stupid single bottle of beer for this recipe.
View attachment 37

Did I want a pilsner? Winter wheat or porter? How about a stout? Lager? IPA? Pale Ale? Wait! There's one called Dragon's Milk! That sounds promising.

Good grief.

I finally picked two 12-ounce cans of varying providence and went to check out. Things were moving along until the cashier charged me $10.99 for one can and $9.99 for the second.

Good grief.
Again.

After I got THAT settled (at $1.66 per can), I followed this recipe:

Oris's Famous Cowboy Beans

4 Cups dry pinto beans
2 slices bacon
1 small can diced green chile
1 medium onion, diced
2 14-oz cans tomatoes
1 bottle dark or amber beer
1 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Soak Beans 8-12 hours. Drain and rinse. Add all ingredient to pot and cover with water. Bring to boil then simmer for 2 hours.

Sounds promising, right? And I'd already scored on the Garam Masala recipe, so this should work, right?
Oh. So not so.

Since I was only making half the recipe, I cut everything down except I forgot to halve the green chile. So the first foremost taste was bitter. Bitter and boring. Then I added herbs (dried and fresh), then something salty, then something sweet, then tomato paste. More broth. More broth flavoring. The end result is...okay but I won't be going down this path again.

View attachment 40
Marilyn is there something you can translate to the reasons these beans are so special? Texture, flavour, (geez, as I am writing this, I have that photo of the pot of cowboys in front of me and my mouth is actually watering. I like beans. These are difficult if not impossible to find here but I might be tempted to make a greater effort to find them.
 

marilynfl

Moderator
Marilyn is there something you can translate to the reasons these beans are so special? Texture, flavour, (geez, as I am writing this, I have that photo of the pot of cowboys in front of me and my mouth is actually watering. I like beans. These are difficult if not impossible to find here but I might be tempted to make a greater effort to find them.
Hi Marg,

Short answer: Rancho Gordo beans retained their integrity and didn't end up mushy or mealy. They had a creaminess that lends itself to absorbing the flavors around it, like tofu--but better without feeling martyrish. I can't attest to how they taste "as is" because I chose recipes with interesting flavors (or so I thought in the beer one). I'm not sure I'd call it meaty since I don't eat a lot of meat, but they are definitely NOT like liver, which tastes like an item previously chewed and then served to me.

Long answer: it's more a matter of introducing foods into my sphere that I originally disdained. Having 8 kids in my family, the only side dish vegetables my mom made were ones we would actually eat. That meant canned corn (Niblets) & canned peas (LeSueur). The only main dish beans to cross our paths were:
  1. canned pork n' beans (with sliced hot dogs)
  2. chili with kidney beans
  3. Mom's sauerkraut & beans (navy)
  4. Campbell's vegetable soup.
I hated them all. Okay, I liked the sauerkraut but that was it.

Hence, I learned to cook the way I'd learn to eat.

I didn't taste black beans until I was 35 (Cuban soup in Miami) and realized--holy cow, maybe I do like beans? But I tried making the soup using dried beans and simmered those suckers over TWO FRIGGING DAYS without them softening. I realize now that they were, in fact, atrophied and would never reconstitute, but I gave up on beans. Rancho Gordo prides itself on the freshness of its dried beans.

When I realized hummus (which I liked) was actually made from chickpeas (beans? really?) I tried making that recipe. But it called for 6 cloves of garlic and my tongue and raw garlic apparently have a deep-seeded hatred for each other so that literally killed my urge. It was a decade before I made the garlic connection and realized I could reduce it.

When I tried donating blood during COVID and found my iron was too low, I started to introduce beans into my diet. Now that I'm retired and can just play with food, I've turned from pastries toward healthier ways to test the science of cooking. There are so many books out now on vegetarian, vegan, plant-based and great photography that it's been fun.

Hope that answers your question.
 
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marg-cdn2

Active member
So I have tried again but they just don't seem to exist here; anywhere here. Not so important though, I won't know what I'm missing, and probably just as well. But I think you just got me to reconsider beans in my diet. I eat far too much meat. I will start with the cowboys. Thank you for sharing this tempting photos and recipes.
 

karennoca

Active member
I discovered Rancho Gordo years ago and have kept a supply of their beans in my pantry. My favorites are Royal Corona beans, a giant white bean, shaped like a lima which gets even bigger after cooking. I lovingly call them, a baked potato bean because of the luscious inside of the bean, so creamy and potato like. I slow cook all my beans, in chicken stock. I keep them simple with lots of sautéed onion, garlic and always Oregano, both Turkish and Mexican, depending on what I am cooking with them. I love to drizzle some of Rancho Gordo's Pineapple Vinegar over them at serving. Sometimes, I add Lacinato Kale at the end of cooking time, and that is very tasty. Rio Zappe bean is another fave of mine as are the Midnight Black Beans. I also learned that each bean has their season, so when they are sold out, that is it until the next production cycle for that bean. They always taste so much better that the store bought bean.
 

karennoca

Active member
Marg, I buy my beans directly from Rancho Gordo, service is great, packaging is sturdy and the beans are always great. Here is a link...
 
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