My Favorite Tomato Salad

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

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There is something about this salad. Every summer, this pops up on my menus. Little details about it might change, but I can not get enough of this salad once summertime roles around. It’s life did not start in a restaurant. This is one of those gems that was first made at home about 3 years ago. There is hardly any cooking needed… with the exception of the okra. The okra is sliced paper thin on a mandoline and then quickly fried. No slime remains, just perfectly crisp okra which works great with tomatoes. This is a technique worth learning.

Tomato & Okra Salad

Yields 4 Servings

10 oz fresh summer tomatoes*
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon of benne seed or sesame seed, toasted
crispy okra
1/4 cup of yogurt dressing
arugula or watercress to garnish
sea salt to finish

For the Yogurt Dressing
Yields 2 cups
1# whole milk plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika

In a bowl add yogurt, salt, coriander, cumin, and paprika. Whisk together. Can be saved for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

For the Crispy Okra
Yields 4 portions
15 medium sized okra
1 qt neutral frying oil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

In a small to medium sized pot heat the oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim the top pieces off of the okra. Carefully slice the okra long ways on a mandoline, one piece at a time, as thin as you can while keeping the pieces intact. It’s easiest if you hold the okra in place with just your index and middle finger and push the okra with the thicker cut end leading. It’s also a good idea to only slice about ¾ of the okra before moving to the next piece; this should keep your fingers a little safer. When all okra is sliced and oil is ready, carefully drop half of the okra into the oil and stir with a wire mesh strainer to prevent the okra from sticking to one another. The okra is done when the bubbles have subsided and the white part of the okra has turned golden brown, about 3 minutes. Scoop the okra out of the oil and allow it to drain for a few seconds, and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat process with remaining okra. Season the okra with a pinch of salt. The okra will stay crispy for 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

To Assemble to Salad:
Spoon the yogurt dressing along the bottom of the plate. Arrange sliced tomatoes over the yogurt dressing. Season the tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the tomatoes. Layer a few leaves of arugula or watercress. Put a nice big pile of crispy okra over the top and finish with benne seed. Serve immediately.

*Any size works, big heirlooms sliced, sun golds cut in half. Just look for the best quality tomato in the peak of their season.

The Primal Ingredient- Grilling

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

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“Ideally you grill steak over a wood fire that has burned down to glowing red hot coals, the smoke perfuming the meat. Sizzling beef fat dripping on wood coals is a primal ingredient that has stayed with humans since we first discovered grilling.” Ben

Line cooks like to talk. It is easy to understand why. For a large part of the day you stand in a kitchen and prep food. Conversation can run the gamut from absurd to philosophical. Sometimes, the same questions will show up in different restaurants. One of my favorite questions is “If you could have any piece of equipment for the kitchen what would you want?” My answer is always the same, a wood grill. There is nothing, nothing that can compare to the flavor that wood and charcoal add to a dish. It is a game changer. I often dream of selling everything and running away to Patagonia to join Francis Mallmann’s pack of culinary gypsies, learning to cook the techniques of “seven fires”. Considering this fact, unsurprisingly, I love chimichurri. Chimichurri is a sauce said to have originated in Argentina and has an acidic punch that cuts through the fat of a good steak. It is arguably a perfect summer sauce to use because it requires no cooking.

Alas, I do not yet have a wood grill in my professional kitchen, but I have one parked outside the kitchen door, close enough that I use it on a regular basis. This recipe is easy and satisfying. If you want to cook it indoors on a cast iron, go for it. But there is something about getting outside and simply cooking over an open fire that reveals what good food is all about.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri

Yields 2 Servings

For the Seasoning Blend
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin

For the Chimichurri
Yields 1½ cups
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cloves garlic
1 shallot
1 poblano pepper or 1 small red bell pepper*, seeds removed, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro, minced
¼ cup parsley, minced
2 tablespoons oregano, minced
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Wood Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
12 oz skirt steak
seasoning blend
olive oil
coarse sea salt

For the Seasoning Blend:
Mix all of the ingredients together. Seat aside. Yields enough for one 12 oz skirt steak.

For the Chimichurri:
The trick to making a good chimichurri is to take your time with your knife work and use a nice olive oil. In a bowl mix red wine vinegar and salt. Finely mince the garlic and shallot. Add the minced garlic, shallot, and finely diced pepper to the vinegar mix. Use poblano pepper for a little more heat, sub out red bell if you want the chimichurri to be mild. Add in cilantro, parsley, oregano, and olive oil. Mix together and set aside. Best used the day you make it, but will hold in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For the Grilled Steak:
Prepare your grill to an even high heat, this will give the steak a nice crust while keeping all the juice and moisture trapped inside. If you are using a gas grill, you know what to do. If you are using charcoal or wood and need help, see below. While the grill is heating up rub the steak with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season both sides with the entire amount of seasoning blend. Set aside for 10 minuets, giving time for the salt and spices to absorb into the meat.

When the grill is ready, lightly oil the grates with olive oil. Place steak on grill and allow both sides to get a good sear, about 2 minutes per side.

Skirt steak cooks quickly because of how thin it is. Each piece of steak will be different so there is no set cooking time, you will have to rely on your culinary intuition. Skirt steak is best when served med-rare to medium, but if you prefer it well done go for it, this is your steak after all.

When you remove your steak let it rest for 5 minutes. Your steak will only take a few minutes to grill and you will have all of these beautiful coals still hot so I recommend grilling some vegetables to go with it.

To finish, slice steak against the grain. Top with 2 tablespoons of chimichurri and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Have a little extra chimichurri on the side as needed. Enjoy!

*If using charcoal, I recommend using a chimney starter filled with natural lump hardwood charcoal. Crumble up some newspaper in the bottom and light on fire. It will probably take about 15 minutes until the charcoal is fully burning, at this point dump contents into grill and allow the grill grates to heat over the coals before grilling. If you are using a wood grill, you probably already know how to build a fire, if not email me and I will walk you through it. Just make sure if you are using charcoal or wood that the fire is cooked down to coals, this will give a more even heat and will give off a more clean and pure tasting flavor.

 

 

 

Ben’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

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I am from California and Ben is from Georgia. I move fast, he moves slow. I am big picture, he is precision and detail. We come from two different worlds. This is the true story of how buttermilk biscuits brought us together.

In the early days of my career, I was a day prep cook at a restaurant in Athens, Georgia. Ben was a Pastry Chef there. It was a relatively small kitchen so there would be a few days early in the week when it was just the two of us, working and talking. We talked a lot. We developed a strong friendship. Every Sunday brunch, Ben was responsible for making buttermilk biscuits. When he had the dough laid out on the prep table, I would walk by and punch it. Once, just once. It was my contribution to the finest biscuits served in Athens. It became a ritual for us. After the biscuits were baked, Ben would offer me one. Warm, fresh from the oven biscuits with butter are out of this world. Soon, Ben started making my biscuits more elaborate. One week it would have melted pimento cheese. The next week, maybe country ham and a fried egg. He would wrap them in foil and pass them across the line to me before service began. I loved those biscuits. I used to tell him that if he made biscuits for me everyday, I might have to marry him.

IMG_3524Well, I don’t eat biscuits every day but we are engaged to be married. I don’t make biscuits. I can’t. I won’t. You see, the only biscuits I want to eat are the ones that Ben makes for me. So if you see them on our menu, you can bet that I punched the dough, but that they are made with love by Ben.

This is his recipe. The recipe is simple, but its all about technique.

Ben’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Yields- about 24

8 cups flour plus an additional 1 cup
4 tablespoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of kosher salt
1 pound unsalted butter plus an additional 3 tablespoons
3 ½ cups whole buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Using a box grater, grate 1 pound of butter into a dish or bowl. You want your butter to be very cold so place into the freezer while you gather the rest of the ingredients. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together 8 cups of flour and the baking powder. Add in salt and mix together. When butter is very cold and hard, about 10 minutes in the freezer, add it all at once to the flour. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of small pebbles. Add in buttermilk and use your hands to gently bring the dough together. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured table or countertop and lightly dust with about half of the reserved 1 cup of flour. Knead dough just till it comes together, careful not to overwork it as this will make for tough biscuits. Lightly dust a rolling pin with some of the reserved flour and begin rolling out the dough until it is uniformly 1 inch thick. Next you will fold the dough to create air pockets, this will give the biscuits beautiful flaky layers. Fold the dough in half top to bottom, lightly roll out dough and fold in half again, this time from side to side. Roll the dough out to a uniformly 1 inch thickness.

Use a 3 inch biscuit cutter to stamp out the biscuits. Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. With the remaining dough scraps, form back into a ball and roll out to 1 inch thickness. Stamp out more biscuits. Any remaning dough scraps can be discarded, by now too much gluten has developed. Melt the reserved 3 tablespoons of butter and brush the tops of the biscuits. This will help give them a lovely golden brown color. Bake biscuits for 15-17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

*You can also freeze the unbaked biscuits for another time. Place on a tray and freeze until solid, then package in Ziploc bags. You don’t need to thaw before cooking, simply place frozen biscuits on a tray and bake. They may take a little longer to bake, around 20 minutes.

 

Rooster’s Beak

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

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Ok, take a moment. Look at the picture. Think about it. No, I have not gone all Andrew Zimmern on you and started eating rooster beak. Welcome to my favorite summer condiment, Pico de Gallo. Pico de Gallo literally translates from Spanish to English as Rooster’s Beak. There is no clear reason I can find. Some say that it used to be eaten with your hands, and given that the vegetables are diced up fairly small, it would take several attempts to grab enough similar to the pecking action of a rooster’s beak. I can’t imagine this would be an easy way to eat pico. But one fact is known about this stuff, there is no better time of the year to whip up a batch then right now. Its so easy. It takes 10 minuets to make.

The recipe I have laid out below was inspired by a dish I had in Oaxaca City at one of my all time favorite restaurants, Zanduga. Here they cook food inspired by the Isthmus region of Oaxaca. At Zanduga they serve a pico de gallo with tiny little river shrimp mixed in and serve it along side a traditional clay oven baked masa called totopo. So simple and so good.

Fry up some tortilla chips and eat as a snack or pile on top of a tostada with a little lettuce and hot sauce and you have a meal.

Shrimp Pico de Gallo

Yields 4 cups

8 oz headed, peeled, deveined shrimp
1 lb. 8 oz best quality summer tomatoes, small dice
3 small jalapeño, deseeded and small dice
1/2 small white onion, small dice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
2 teaspoons salt

For the shrimp, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add shrimp. Poach for 1-2 minuets. Strain from boiling water and shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Once cooled, remove from ice bath. Cut the shrimp in 1/4 in think slices. Set aside.

For the pico de gallo, in a bowl add diced tomatoes, jalapeño, white onion, lime juice, and salt. Mix together. Add in diced shrimp and cilantro. Cover and set aside. Allow flavors to marry for at least 15 minuets. Serve.

 

Millions of Peaches… Peaches for Me…

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

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Its peach season in the south. For a short period of time we Georgia folk get to revel in our iconic image as the The Peach State (although, truth be told we should probably be the blueberry state…). Now, finding a good peach is hard work. These days if you walk into a grocery store you are more likely to find tart, shriveled, sad little jet lagged fruits that taste fairly bland. Unless you are lucky enough to live down the street from a peach orchard I high recommend perusing one of two options.

The Peach Truck: I heard a rumor from some Nashville folk that Georgia peaches (the real, true, juicy, sweet peaches we like to keep to ourselves) were being sold and consumed by the ton in Tennessee! Amazing and true The Peach Truck was born out of love story of a Georgia boy sharing sweet Georgia peaches with his wife from the North. The Peach Truck will be traveling through several states this summer sharing the joy of a summer peach, check and see if they are visiting your town or order online.

Pearson Peaches: Go straight to the source. I come from the Atlanta school of Chefs which, among other things, taught me the importance of Pearson Peaches. This is a fifth generation family farm located in Fort Valley Georgia. They grow peaches that taste like summer. Tell Jennifer that Whitney from Greyfield Inn sent you!

Summer Peach Crostata

Yields 2- 8 inch tarts

For the dough
3 1/3 cups AP Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of cold butter
2 eggs
4 tbsp sugar

For the filling
2 pounds of peaches
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
2.5 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cold butter

For the dough:
In a bowl mix AP flour and salt. Cut cold butter in cubes and add in flour. Using your hands, incorporate the cold butter into the flour until the flour begins to take on a sand like consistency. Add in sugar. Set aside. Separate your eggs, yolks in one bowl and whites in another. Reserve white for later. Mix egg yolks with 4 tablespoons of water. Add in the flour mix. Work the dough into a smooth ball. Be careful not to overwork your dough, this will make it tough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 15 to 20 minuets to rest.

For the filling:
Peel and deseed the peaches. Cut into slices. In a bowl mix peaches, lemon juice, cinnamon, cornstarch, and sugar.

To make the Crostata:
On a floured surface roll out dough. It tends to stick so use lots of flour. Roll it to about 1/8 inch thick or about 12 inches around. Pile peach filling into the center of the dough leaving a 3 inch border. Brush the border with the egg whites. Gently fold the edge of the dough over the fruit. Dot the fruit with the butter. Brush the outside of the tart with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minuets or until the crust is golden brown and cooked through. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Serve for dessert or, as I prefer,  for breakfast with a cup of earl grey.

 

 

Florida’s Little Black Dress

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

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Smoked fish dip is the little black dress of dinner parties in South Florida…” -Wendy Donahue, The Chicago Tribune

To be honest, it took me time to understand and appreciate Smoked “Fish” Dip. When I came across them, early in my career, I wrote them off as dated and cliche. In my defense, the few I had been exposed to were not great, big chunks of red onion, bland, just plain boring. My moment of clarity came from experiencing the dish done well in the hands of a talented Chef. Vinny Dotolo is a famed California Chef, by way of Florida. He is a partner in Animal, Son of a Gun, and Trois Mec. One night in Oxford Mississippi, as so many magical food stories begin thanks to the SFA, I ate smoked gulf mullet dip with hushpuppies. The stars and the heavens aligned! Delicious…Amazing!

This experience, combined with my ever growing love of the mystical and  sometimes southern state known as Florida has led me to create my own version. Feel free to try this recipe with various types of smoked fish. Watch your seasoning, various types of smoked fish will have equally varied salt content. Note that the recipe below does not call for salt because the fish I use is very well seasoned. Whip up this recipe the next time you find yourself invited to a Floridian house party

Smoked Trout Dip

Yeilds 4 Servings

6 oz smoked trout
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced scallion
½ tsp minced dill
½ tsp lemon zest
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp sour cream
½ tsp lemon juice

Heat olive oil in small sauté pan over med-low heat. Add in shallot and garlic. Sweat down for 2- 3 minuets being careful not to brown. Set aside. In a mixing bowl add your trout, gently breaking it apart with your hands. Add in scallion, dill, lemon zest, mayonnaise, sour cream, and lemon juice. Add in your shallot and garlic. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat for 20-30 seconds on low until fully incorporated. Alternatively, vigorously mix with a spoon for same results. Enjoy with crackers, toasted bread, or hushpuppies… and a cold beer.

 

 

Pancakes… For The One You Love

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

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Waking up too early
Maybe we can sleep in
Make you banana pancakes
Pretend like it’s the weekend now
– Jack Johnson

The Origin Story: In 2010 I moved to Cumberland Island… the first time. It was here that I took my first Executive Chef job and I loved it. Living on a semi-tropical island, having a national seashore a 5 minute bike ride from my front door, amazing sunsets, tropical breezes. You get the picture. When you live in this type of environment you also begin to fully embrace a certain type of life style. Suddenly Jimmy Buffet songs make sense, you begin to consider buying a Panama hat, socks are no longer needed. I say all this so that you can understand  and appreciate that, yes, this recipe was in fact inspired by the Jack Johnson song “Banana Pancakes”. I am sorry if this is cheesy, but its true. Ben worked up this recipe years ago as a treat for me and an ode to this song. This recipe has stayed with us and was a favorite item on the brunch menu at Cinco y Diez. Most recently we started adding cornmeal to the recipe. If you are a Cinco fan and want to have them the original way, just sub out the cornmeal and replace with AP flour. We like to serve ours with butter, maple syrup, and whipped clabber cream.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

Yields – 10, four-inch pancakes
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 cup cornmeal
1 egg
4 tbsp butter melted (half a stick of butter)
1 very ripe banana
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk

Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add salt, cornmeal, and sugar to the flour mixture. Stir to combine.Set aside. Melt the butter over low heat in a small sauce pan. Place the banana, vanilla extract, buttermilk, and egg into a blender and puree. While blender is on, pour in melted butter to incorporate with the buttermilk. Pour wet ingredients into the flour/cornmeal mixture all at once. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the ingredients together. The mixture will have small to medium lumps in it. Do not over mix, it will make your pancakes tough.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium low heat. When pan is hot, add 1 tbsp of butter to the pan. Using a scoop or a ladle, drop 4 oz of the batter into the pan. When the tops of the pancakes have small bubbles and the edges begin to slightly brown, flip them over (about 2 minutes). Cook 1 minute, making sure the pancake is cooked through. Place pancakes on a plate and cover with a towel. Repeat process until the batter is finished. Serve, in bed… on a tray… to the one you love.

 

Viva la Squid!

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

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My first introduction to squid was “fried calamari”. Are there many of us that can say otherwise? I’m sure there are a few lucky folks out there that could tell us about as amazing first time experience of squid braised with tomatoes, chile flake, currants, and lemon. Or maybe one incorporated squid ink, fresh chiles, and garlic? Jealous? I am. There is nothing wrong with really great fried calamari, but squid is so incredibly versatile and sustainable that I call for home cooks to take up the charge and start cooking more squid!

Squid can be sautéed, braised, or grilled. When purchasing look for whole cleaned squid or, if your up for a challenge, you can clean it yourself. Check out You Tube for instructional videos that take you through the steps. Try not be buy pre cut rings, they tend to be tougher. Look for squid from the U.S. Atlantic, California, or Mexico.

Garlic & Smoked Paprika Squid

Squid Marinade
Yields 1 cup, enough for up to 5 pounds whole, uncleaned squid
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pobalano pepper, deseeded and minced
¾ cup olive oil
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp of chopped parsley
1 tsp of chopped mint
1 tsp salt

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add in half of the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer add in the shallot and garlic and cook over medium heat until they just start to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Add in the paprika, lemon zest, and worcestershire sauce. Let the mixture cook together for about 15 seconds and turn off the burner. This will toast the paprika in the oil and help release its flavor. Add in the lemon juice and the rest of the olive oil. Stir to combine. Add the salt and chopped herbs. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the squid.

Grilled Squid
Yields 4-6 portions
2.5 pounds whole,uncleaned squid
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup of squid marinade

Clean and trim the squid. Toss the tentacles and bodies into a bowl and mix with the salt, paprika, and olive oil. Set aside while you prepare your grill. I recommend grilling over wood or charcoal, but a gas grill will work just as well. When the grill is ready, place the squid pieces flat on the grates and cook for about 2 mins on each side. The tentacles will cook a little faster. Remove squid from the grill and allow to cool enough to handle. Slice the bodies into rings about a quarter inch thick, cut the tentacles in half lengthwise. Toss the squid in the marinade and thoroughly mix. Check seasoning. Wrap with plastic wrap and leave out to let marinate for at least an hour. If it will be over an hour before you eat the squid, just let it marinade in the fridge and remove about half an hour before serving. I like to serve the grilled squid as a salad with farro, pinenuts, plumped currants and pole beans from the garden.

Note: What’s the difference between calamari and squid? Nothing. Calamari is the Italian word for squid!

 

 

The Summer Cucumber

Friday, June 5th, 2015

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Its no mystery that to make great food, you need to use great product. Nothing  can be better than using produce grown by local farmers in your area. Its fresh, its in season, and more often than not they grow varieties that have more flavor. In the South, there is a point in the summer in which the heat limits what farmers can grow. As a Chef you begin to see a steady rotation of peppers, eggplant, squash, and cucumbers. Cooking in season presents challenges. Its good to use the season’s bounty, but you don’t wan’t to feel like your eating the same thing every day. Lately, my opponent has been the cucumber. The Greyfield Garden has been producing an amazing number of cucumbers and its my job to find a place on the menu for all of them. This recipe is a perfect summer refresher or the mixer for an evening summer cocktail.

Cucumber Lemonade

Yields 6 cups

4 cups of water
3/4 cup of sugar
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups of cucumber, deseeded

In a pot add water and sugar. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Turn off and set aside. In a blender add cucumber and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Add the sugar water to the puree. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove any excess cucumber pulp. Add 4 cups of ice to liquid. Set aside to cool. Drink up!

*Add in a little tequila or gin to make a perfect summer cocktail

 

Heirloom Black Beans

Monday, June 1st, 2015

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Before I was the Chef at Cinco y Diez and really studied the art of cooking Mexican food, I was an avid eater of the cuisine. But it was my time in Mexico where I really learned how to do it right. At the heart of many latin cultures lies the ability to cook a beautiful pot of beans. Cuban frijoles negros, Brazilian feijoada, Salvadoran casamiento. The beauty of knowing how to cook a great pot of beans is the endless meal possibilities.They are so versatile. They can be the star of the meal, a good bowl of beans and rice is timeless. They can play side kick to countless other dishes.  If you follow me on Instagram you will know that one of my all time favorite things to make/eat is tostadas and I almost always start building them with a spoonful of beans. This recipe gives you the tools to building your own perfect pot of beans. The key is building the flavor by layering in aromatics and spices. In Mexican cooking, one of the techniques to building flavor is charring your ingredients. The photo below is a look at how your vegetables should look when it calls for “charred”.

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Where to by a better bean. I always say that one of my key roles as a Chef is to find the best ingredients I can get my hands on. I love the selection of beans that Rancho Gordo carries. For the beans we cooked at Cinco y Diez we used midnight black beans. But once you learn this recipe, explore other beans. I love the santa maria pinquito and the ayocote amarillo. Cooking times will vary based on the size of your beans. All you need to remember is to make sure there is plenty of liquid in the pot while they cook and be patient. Beans take time and you want to make sure they are very tender before you eat them.

Rancho Gordo

Heirloom Black Beans

Yields 3 quarts
1 quart of dried black beans (soaked overnight)*
1 med tomato, charred
½ onion, charred
1 jalapeno, charred, deseeded and skin removed
2 garlic cloves, charred, skins removed
1½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
queso fesco/ serrano/ cilanto optional garnish

In a blender add tomato, onion, jalapeno, garlic, Mexican oregano, and cumin. Blend until smooth to create a puree. In a medium pot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add in the puree. Fry for about two minuets, string often. Add in the beans and any extra water from soaking. Add in 1 ½ quarts of water. You want to make sure there is plenty of water in the pot. There should be about 3 inches of water over the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour and 45 minuets or until beans are tender. Add salt, adjust seasoning as needed. To serve garnish with a little queso fresco, sliced serrano, and cilantro.

*To soak, cover so there is at least 1 inch of cold water covering the beans. This will help to soften the beans for cooking. Make sure to reserve the bean liquid and cook your beans in it.

Note: The photo below was how I chose to enjoy the pot of beans I whipped up for this recipe. My love, the tostada!

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