I’ve been noticing lots of posts and photos circulating of beans – dried, soaked, and set to simmer on the stove top until perfect. With a bag of precious Rancho Gordo Mayocoba beans stashed in the pantry, I thought it was about time I give this old comforting classic a shot.
The last time I recall having dried beans, now so many years ago I was barely able to see over the stove, they had been on the shelves so long that, even after a good soak and a slow simmer, they were still crunchy. Not in a good way, either. Needless to say, I was a little hesitant to try my hand at beans, but after reading up on the subject and seeing the precious heirloom legumes at a local natural and gourmet food store, I was excited to see what would come from the little bag of jewels.
All I can say is – I have been placed under the dried beans magical spell. I’m already excitedly planning to scour the dried beans aisle to see what I can find for my next batch, and plotting other things to do with these delectable little pods of wonder. Mixed with some fresh herbs, a bit of Parmesan rind, a squeeze of lemon, and bacon, the beans transformed into tender, nourishing bits of comfort wrapped around intense flavor. Do yourself a favor and grab a bag next time you’re at the store and prepare yourself for a truly transforming experience.
*Please forgive the photos – I grabbed my camera in excitement at what my dutch oven held and realized that my battery had become exhausted over the holidays, leaving me stuck with nothing but my iPhone to rely on.
Beans in Cheesy-Lemon Broth
6 slices of bacon
1 1lb bag of Rancho Gordo Mayocoba beans (or similar), soaked in water overnight
4-6 cups chicken stock
2-4 cups water
1 3-inch piece of Parmesan rind
1 bay leaf, torn in half
2 sprigs fresh rosemary – 1 whole, 1 finely chopped
1 sprig fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
grated Parmesan and your favorite olive oil for topping
- Cut slices of bacon into ½ inch wide piece and render in a 4-qt dutch oven or other sturdy pot on medium heat, cooking bacon in batches if necessary. Cook bacon to your crisp-ness preference, but be sure the fat renders and is left in the bottom of the pot. Remove cooked bacon and set on a paper towel to absorb excess fat, set aside for later.
- Add beans to pot, stir to coat with the bacon fat, and add 4 cups of liquid (I used a half chicken stock/half water mixture). Bring beans to a full boil and let cook for five minutes, skimming foam off the top as needed.
- Lower heat to a simmer and add Parmesan rind, bay leaf, the whole sprig of rosemary, and kosher salt. Set beans to simmer, covered, for at least two hours. Check on bean tenderness and, if necessary, add more liquid and allow to simmer longer as needed.
- When beans are nice and tender, remove the Parmesan rind, what is left of the rosemary sprig, and the bay leaf pieces. Add the finely chopped rosemary and oregano and lemon juice. At this point, taste the broth and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Just before serving, add cooked bacon pieces to beans and stir. Serve warm with plenty of both beans and broth in each portion. Top with grated Parmesan and a hearty drizzle of olive oil.