My Favorite People, My Favorite Recipes, Steve Sando from Rancho Gordo
While 2016 has been challenging in many ways, it’s also, happily, been the International Year of Pulses (that’s dried beans). Long before the UN declared pulses worthy of their own year, Steve Sando was promoting them. For over a decade, Steve, CEO of Rancho Gordo and the author of three pulse-centric cookbooks, has been the acolyte for heirloom beans. He’s shown us beans go far beyond the basic white, black and red. Through him, I’ve discovered varieties like ojo de cabra (goat eye beans), flor de Junio (June flower beans) and Christmas limas. large, flat with their distinctive swirl of dark red and white, creamy texture and chestnutty taste. You gotta love ‘em. I do.
Sure, Rancho Gordo’s slightly cheeky logo is great fun, but the value comes from the heirlooms themselves and Steve’s dedication to preserving them. He reminds us of the power of diversity, whether it’s pulses or people, and that even the most seemingly simple food has the power to connect us to place and to each other.
As you cook these heirloom beans and other grains and ingredients, keep in mind that we have a common New World culture with Mexico and the rest of the Americas. What you are doing isn’t exotic and esoteric. It’s continuing traditions that are well-established for a reason. I think most of us who are immigrants to the Americas are staying, so rather than constantly trying to reproduce English gardens or European wine, it’s nice to know what’s from here and discover ways of incorporating these ingredients into your kitchen. New World food is exciting, tasty, healthy, romantic, and possibly, easier on the earth.
I hope you enjoy cooking with these Rancho Gordo products as much as I enjoy growing and presenting them.
Sopa de ReboseroThe hacienda that hosts much of the activities of our Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project was bustling with guests and meals during our last visit. For now, I have my photos, and this recipe for a very simple soup that seems much more indulgent than it actually is. It’s delicious and easy and for me, nostalgic. Please don’t try this with commodity beans. It won’t work. A simple dish like this needs the best ingredients, like Rancho Gordo heirloom beans.
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped medium
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound Rancho Gordo Rebosero beans cleaned and rinsed
- Sea salt
- 3 corn tortillas preferably a little stale, cut into very thin strips
- Oil for frying
- 1 teaspoon Rancho Gordo Oregano Indio
- Limes for garnish
- In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil on medium heat until soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the beans and cover with about 2 inches of water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a full, rapid boil for 15 minutes. Turn the heat to low and allow the beans to gently simmer. Make sure the beans are always covered by about 2 inches of liquid, adding new water as needed. Cold water can seize the beans and slow down the cooking process, so it’s best to have a tea kettle or a pan with warm water on hand to add as needed. After about an hour, the beans should begin to soften. Add a tablespoon of sea salt and allow the beans to continue cooking until done. Total time will be between an hour and a half and 3 hours. If it’s taking too long, turn up the heat.
- While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a skillet and fry the tortilla strips in the hot oil until crispy. Allow them to drain on paper towels and salt generously.
- When the beans are soft, correct the seasoning and add the teaspoon of Oregano Indio. Ladle into bowls and top with the tortilla strips. Serve with limes.
NotesSee the recipes and other bean creations at https://www.ranchogordo.com/pages/sopa-de-rebosero