Rancho Gordo Bean King on His Recommendations
About a decade ago, Rancho Gordo became the go-to bean brand for the culinary cognoscenti. Founder Steve Sando was profiled in The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker, and their “bean club” subscription box, which drops quarterly, built up a waitlist of 8,000 people. Beans, which had previously been considered a humble staple at best and a punchline at worst, had become cool.
This was all before the novel coronavirus outbreak prompted people to rush out and stock up on shelf-stable foods. Since then, Rancho Gordo has been feeling the heat of overwhelming demand. “I feel like a jerk complaining, but it’s unbelievable,” Sando told GQ. “People are panicking and hoarding. Every news conference, we get a spike.”
For those of us lucky enough to be stuck working at home, kept company by our dried bean stash and crushing despair for the foreseeable future, I called Sando up to ask for his isolation recommendations. For starters, the charismatic bean king suggested keeping it simple. “You cook half a pound of beans at a time,” he instructed. “The first time, you have just a bowl of beans.” I repeat: just a bowl of beans. For your next bean meal, he added, you can strain them and make a salad, and then the remainder can go towards a hearty soup.
Read on for more of Sando’s favorite things to elevate your beans and, perhaps, your life.
Sando’s all-time favorite bean is Rancho Gordo’s famous Eye of the Goat. “We sell out of it every year. It’s this big, fat, velvety bean and it has one of the most delicious bean broths that you can do,” he said. “Even though I’m a meat eater, I think it’s better just adding onion, garlic, olive oil, the beans, and water. You can’t improve on that.” For dried bean novices, he suggested sampling the brand’s garbanzos. “Most people think they have a concept of what a garbanzo is and we have so many people who are like, ‘eh, I know what garbanzos are,’ and then they go, ‘oh, this is completely different.’” He also pointed to their yellow eye bean as another “classic bean.”
For Cooking The Beans
The three methods for cooking your beans (after you give them a substantial soak, of course) are: stovetop, slow cooker, and pressure cooker. “I believe in making my life as difficult as possible, so I often cook in clay pots on my gas stove,” Sando told me. The Rancho Gordo site sells one that has been “burnished with a quartz rock that has been in the family for generations.” (Fear not: this should only add about 15 minutes total to your cooking time. Also, time doesn’t exist anymore.) For another stovetop option, “Le Creuset is great — just an enamel cast iron one.”
As far as pressure cookers go, “I don’t personally use an Instant Pot but everybody’s in love. I think that’s been the gateway tool to get people to cook at home. So in that sense, I think it’s a great thing.” On the rare occasions he uses a pressure cooker, Sando will go the Fagor route. Either way, he had a tip: “The secret is to open the lid and keep simmering them for about a half hour or 45 minutes so that the bean broth isn’t dead.”
Sando is also a big fan of cookware from Santa Barbara Forge. “They make gates and wrought iron stuff. They started doing hand-forged steel pans,” he said. “I am in love with these things.”
Source : Gabriella Paiella Link