In Praise of the Bay Leaf

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My bean cooking has been stripped down over time. It used to be with a ham bone, then it was chicken stock, then mirepoix (celery, carrot, onion) to finally onion, garlic, olive oil and water. Georgeanne Brennan takes it one step further and adds only a bay leaf to her water. She’s not a vegetarian but she likes her flavors sharp and distinct. She once described making her Royal Coronas in one pot (with just a bay leaf) and a smoked ham hock in another and when it came time to serve them, she ladled the beans in a bowl and added the sliced meat after and saved the broth from the ham hock for something else. For me, this wasn’t intuitive but if you love beans, you really aren’t trying to mask the flavor.

Georgeanne’s company, La Vie Rustic, has bay laurel from a tree on Georgeanne’s property and now we’re carrying them as well as they are an essential part of bean cooking for many.

Order bay laurel from the Rancho Gordo website.

4 Comments on In Praise of the Bay Leaf

  1. I usually put 2 or 3 bay leaves each time I cook your beans, 1/2 pound at a time. It’s automatic and I love it. Cranberry beans were my last batch–I think they’re my new faves, at least this week 🙂 I made this multi-layered slow cooker dish with beef short ribs (a Bayless recipe) and there was enough liquid left to cook the beans in. Cannot even tell you how good it was.
    Side Note: I’m halfway through News From the Empire–geez, it’s exhausting! But I’m really enjoying it–but I needed a break–and found amongst my cookbooks Recipe of Memory by Victor and Mary Lau Valle–and discovered another terrific history book–with great (very do-able) recipes! Hope you are familiar with it too, it’s very good.(IMHO)

  2. p.s.–That’s a Rick Bayless recipe I mentioned, not one “without bay” hahaha could not resist….groan

  3. Can you post the short rib recipe please ?

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