Friday, March 4, 2016

Rancho Gordo Marcella Beans -- Yum!

Baked Marcella Beans with Chicken. Monochrome, but good.
I've been a fan of Rancho Gordo beans for a long time, and the love affair continues.

Back in 2009 I already knew about them, but don't think I had tried any. Too pricey to mail order (although I've done that once or twice since). Visiting a friend in Napa in August 2009 I went on a quest and found them on a store shelf -- brought home several pounds. I've cooked many of them over the intervening years, always wonderful, but I can only find two entries on the blog about them.

First, I tried Spring Lamb with Flageolets, from the Rancho Gordo Cookbook. Then not too much later, I tried Senate Bean Soup from the cookbook, which I've made often. It's a favorite. I rarely visit Napa without snagging a few pounds -- last time, unbelievably a year and a half ago now -- I stopped at their store for the first time. Those beans are long gone.

Recently, a local friend who I'd turned on to the brand ordered some, and ordered some as a gift for me as well. Nice friend! I was hot to trot to try these new Marcella beans, named after the late Marcella Hazan.

I've been mulling over how to best use them, finally decided upon a combination of two recipes Tweeted out by Steve Sando, Mr. Rancho Gordo @RanchoGordo. Baked in the oven, lots of onion and garlic and rosemary, with chicken thighs. And oh yeah, some of that fabulous chicken stock I made last week, all glutinous and filled with flavor.

Here's the finished product -- and it tastes as good as (possibly even better than) it looks.

I'm not great at all details of the recipe, since I kind of made it up on the fly, but here's the basics.

1/2 lb Marcella Beans, soaked overnight
1 yellow onion, sliced
8-10 cloves of whole garlic,  peeled
3 springs of fresh Rosemary
4 chicken thighs
1.5 cups homemade stock
2-3 cups water

Process: Browned chicken in 2 Tbsp olive oil, removed. Sauteed onions in the same pan, added garlic cloves. Let it cook until browned, added soaked beans, rosemary stock and water to cover well. Plopped chicken on top, put it all uncovered into 350 degree oven, baked for a couple of hours until beans were tender and creamy. After I took the above photo, I removed the chicken to a dish then put the beans back in the oven to cook another 30 minutes or so. I like my beans just at the point where they're falling apart and a rich, thick broth forms. Added salt (important to add this after beans are cooked). Then once cooled, I put the whole thing in the fridge so it could mellow for a day, as beans always seem to taste better after that.

Had some for lunch today, and I gotta say -- Dynamite!  Lots of calories, but a big protein payoff, too. I get to have this for lunch for 3 more days, too. No way I'm going to freeze some for later.

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