When my friend Ruth Alegria told me I needed to meet Yunuen and Gabriel, I shrugged my shoulders and thought, why not? I didn’t understand the work they were doing to promote the sour prickly pears known as xoconostle and even if I had, at best, I would have thought it was interesting. I couldn’t have dreamed that our lives would be intertwined for the next 9 years.
Together we’ve created a market for traditional Mexican farmers to grow their heritage beans (and not give in to pressure to grow commodity beans for the superstores.) Each year, we buy and sell more and it’s a great situation where everyone wins.
To celebrate this great marriage, we have the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project Sampler. Now you’re a part of this great experiment as well.
It’s quite likely this is the first time they’ve offered outside of their region, let alone outside of Mexico. The beans have been saved and passed down for generations and now you have a unique opportunity to try them for yourself.
Big and fat and creamy, there really isn’t a task in the kitchen it can’t handle. When fully cooked, it’s somewhat starchy and has a mild potato flavor, which screams for bacon or pancetta. Keep cooking and they go from dense to creamy and even a little buttery. You can make an elaborate dish like a cassoulet or you can just drizzle your best olive oil on the top and enjoy them with no fuss.
Ayocote Morado are a cousin to the more famous Scarlet Runner and can be used anyplace a runner bean is called for. These beans are big and creamy but the pot liquor (or “caldo”) is thin and flavorful, almost like a boullion. They cook up dark in color, so save a few of them to remember their lovely purple coloring when raw!
From the state of Hidalgo (and sometimes seen in Puebla), these lilac-and-black marked beans are probably a very near cousin to what we’ve grown as Rio Zape. Like Rio Zape, they have a luxurious pot liquor (bean broth) with hints of coffee and chocolate. San Franciscanos have a sturdier skin, making them more versatile and usable in salads and composed dishes as well as chili, soups, and stews. But we think the best way to enjoy them is plain, and pass around the salsas and garnishes like grilled onions, grilled cactus paddles, limes, Mexican oregano and fresh cheese.
SANGRE DE TORO
A classic red bean from the heart of Mexico, Sangre de Toro (or “Bull’s Blood”) is a tremendous and versatile bean that can be used in Southern dishes as well as in Caribbean and Central American meals. Dense and meaty, Sangre de Toro has a good pot liquor and can be used whenever red beans are called for. We like them for salads, chili, red beans and rice, and soups.
Order the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project Sampler now.