Rancho Gordo agreed to join the Benchmark Institute’s event, A Taste of Tamales by the Bay, and that meant beans for at least 200 people. I had no idea how much to make so I guessed 15 pounds of dry beans. Now, how to make them? I could have done them all in my big industrial roaster/oven thing that looks like a slowcooker from the 1940s but 15 pounds wouldn’t fit in all at once. I eneded up cooking 4 clay pots and one slowcooker batch, thinking the clay really does add something and if I mixed them all up in the end I’d have a pretty great bean dish.
I decided to soak them for three hours and it was fun watching the beans rise and the water level go down. My Brita filter was working overtime.
The different pots all came to a boil at different times but they pretty much agreed among themselves to have the Rio Zape beans fully cooked in about 90 minutes. And they really were great. I can’t help but think that the clay helps the flavor and texture. The crockpot batch had less flavor and a firmer texture but there is no evaporation so it’s hard to know if it’s clay or the open lid that made the other beans so superior.
If you’re curious, 15 pounds ended up yielding 8 gallons of cooked beans, which was about twice as much as we needed.
The event itself was great (I’ll report more on it later) and happily the beans were a big hit.