If you don’t already know, Rancho Gordo is an heirloom bean company based out of Napa, CA. Their popularity reached unprecedented heights in 2020, as beans were finally given their well-deserved moment in the spotlight.
Steve Sando, Rancho Gordo’s founder, told us how perhaps “the worst business idea ever of growing and selling beans,”—his words not ours—became unbelievably successful. Along the way, he also gave us some advice on how to make beans into the star of any dish.
This is the first part of a two-part recipe. It utilizes Alubia Blancas, a small, Spanish-style white bean with a creamy interior. “They produce this incredible bean broth,” says Sando, hence why he recommends cooking them with clams, which also produce an excellent broth.
But first, we must cook the beans themselves. We like to use a Dutch Oven to keep this a one pot meal. It’s such a pretty vessel that you might even be tempted to serve out of it too, but if not, we’ve got you covered.
We talked to Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando to learn the best way to cook their amazing dried beans.
Optional step: You can soak the beans in a pot of water overnight, but because Rancho Gordo beans are fresh, Sando thinks this is unnecessary.
Preheat a Dutch Oven over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and allow it to get hot before adding in your onion, celery and carrot. Sauté until fragrant and soft but not brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
Pour in the beans and cover them with 2 inches of water. Turn heat up to medium.
Bring to a boil, uncovered, and keep it there for about 10 minutes. When the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt.
Reduce to a gentle simmer, and cover with the lid slightly ajar, letting it simmer for 1 to 2 hours, until the beans are soft. Make sure to check the beans every 30 minutes or so. I usually find that because they are so fresh, most Rancho Gordo beans cook within an hour.
Remove from heat and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Pour through a fine mesh strainer, reserving the broth if desired. Discard vegetables, and keep broth and beans separate.