Key Lime Pie

Crust

14 graham crackers (about 1½ sleeves)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling and Assembly

4 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup fresh key lime (or regular lime) juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)

Crust

Preheat oven to 325°. Using your hands, crush graham crackers in a large bowl until coarsely ground (you could do this in a food processor if you’d like, just be sure not to process too finely; you want some texture in the larger pieces). Add butter, coconut oil, sugar, and salt and mix until well blended (mixture will resemble wet sand). Transfer to a 9″ pie dish. Using your fingers and the underside of a flat measuring cup, press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of dish. Bake crust, rotating once halfway through, until golden brown on top and crumbs are set, 12–15 minutes. Let cool.

Filling and Assembly

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg yolks and condensed milk in a large bowl until paler and almost doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 2 tsp. lime zest, lime juice, and salt. Pour into cooled crust. Bake pie until filling no longer jiggles and is starting to slightly puff around the edges, 15–20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Whip cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently whisk in yogurt and rum, if using. Dollop onto cooled pie, creating dramatic peaks and valleys with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Garnish with lime zest.

Do Ahead: Crust can be baked 2 days ahead; pie without whipped topping can be made 2 days ahead; pie can be assembled (with topping) 4 hours ahead.

From Bon Appetit

Angel Food Cake

1 cup cake flour, sifted
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups egg whites (from 12–14 large eggs)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Berries and whipped cream (for serving)

A 10″ tube pan

Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-low speed to break up egg whites, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until whites are very foamy and barely form soft peaks, about 45 seconds longer. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until whites are firm and glossy and hold stiff peaks (if you overbeat, the meringue will look dry, grainy, and curdled). Beat in lemon juice and vanilla.

Remove bowl from mixer. Sift one-third of dry ingredients over meringue. Return bowl to mixer and beat on low speed until incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer again and repeat sifting and mixing process 2 more times. Remove bowl again and fold batter several times with a large flexible spatula, scraping and lifting batter from the bottom to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Scrape about half of batter into ungreased tube pan. Using a spoon or small offset spatula, push batter around bottom of pan, into corners, and up sides and center tube (this helps form smooth sides and eliminate air pockets); it’s okay if batter forms a little bit of a trough, with the center at a lower level than the outer edges. Scrape remaining batter into pan, spreading evenly and smoothing top.

Bake cake until top is puffed, split, golden, and springs back firmly when touched and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Immediately invert pan, placing hollow part of tube over a long-necked wine or other glass bottle to elevate it (if your pan has feet, simply rest upside-down on feet). Let cool at least 1 hour, then turn right side up. The upside-down cooling is key for a cake that doesn’t deflate and sink onto itself. Using a thin metal spatula, cut around sides and loosen cake. Pull on tube to release cake from pan, then cut around tube. Using thin metal spatula, loosen cake from bottom. Invert cake onto a plate or cake stand and remove bottom. Serve with berries and whipped cream.

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.

From Bon Appetit

Bread Pudding (with Variations)

1/2-large (2-pound) loaf challah bread, torn into 1½–2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3-inch strip orange zest
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided, plus more for pan
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 300°. Spread torn bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing halfway through and reducing oven temperature if bread is getting too golden, until pieces are very dry and slightly toasted, 25–35 minutes. (Dry bread will absorb the custard without disintegrating, which is why this step is important.) Let cool, then transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat cinnamon, vanilla bean, cream, milk, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high. As soon as mixture starts to boil (watch closely or milk will boil over top of pot!), remove from heat. Whisk in orange zest and 2 Tbsp. butter and let steep 30 minutes. Pluck out and discard cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and orange zest.

Brush a 1½–2-qt. baking dish with butter. Pour milk mixture into a blender. Add egg and egg yolks and blend, starting on low and increasing speed to high, until mixture is light and foamy, 20–30 seconds. Pour over reserved bread and toss to coat. Scrape into prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours and up to 12; this gives bread time to evenly soak up custard.

Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 300°. Brush remaining 2 Tbsp. butter over cold bread pieces. Sprinkle with raw sugar, then top with almonds, if using. Bake bread pudding until lightly golden, puffed, pulling away from edges of pan, and butter is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Let cool 1 hour before serving.

Do Ahead: Bread pudding can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

For Chocolate Bread Pudding

Add 6 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao or higher) and 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder to scalded milk mixture instead of butter and whisk until melted and smooth.

When ready to bake, top bread pudding with 1 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate. Sprinkle with raw sugar, then top with ¼ cup chopped pecans instead of almonds. Bake as directed.

For Coconut Bread Pudding

Add one 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk instead of heavy cream to whole milk mixture. As soon as mixture bubbles, remove from heat and whisk in 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil instead of butter and a strip of lime zest instead of orange. Let steep 30 minutes. Pluck out and discard cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and lime zest.

Brush baking dish with 2 Tbsp. melted virgin coconut oil instead of butter. Brush 2 Tbsp. melted virgin coconut oil instead of butter over cold bread pieces. Sprinkle with raw sugar, then top with 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes instead of almonds. Bake as directed.

From Bon Appetit

Classic Fettuccine Alfredo

12 ounces fettuccine or other long pasta
Kosher salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to a large skillet. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in butter, a piece at a time, until melted. Whisking constantly, gradually add cheese, making sure it’s completely melted and incorporated before adding more. Add pasta and toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce blankets noodles completely. Serve topped with pepper and more cheese.

From Bon Appetit.

English Muffins

1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup buttermilk, warmed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, divided, plus more
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Cornmeal (for dusting)

Whisk yeast, sugar, and 1 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add buttermilk, butter, oil, salt, and 3½ cups flour and beat on low speed until a shaggy dough forms. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, but is very wet and sticky, about 5 minutes.

Spray a medium bowl with nonstick spray, transfer dough to greased bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill overnight (the cold rise makes the dough easier to handle, produces better flavor, and creates more nooks and crannies).

Dust 2 parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets generously with cornmeal (you want to cover all the parchment). Spray a clean work surface with nonstick spray, turn out dough, then spray dough. Using a bench scraper, divide dough into 12 equal pieces (they should be about 3 oz. each). Working with 1 piece at a time and using bench scraper, fold dough inward onto itself on 4 sides. Turn dough over with bench scraper so that folds are underneath and transfer to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing evenly on sheets.

Sprinkle each piece with cornmeal. Spray plastic wrap with nonstick spray and loosely cover baking sheets, oiled side down. Let sit at room temperature until dough is nearly doubled in size, 60–70 minutes.

Heat a large skillet or griddle, preferably cast iron, over low. Place another rimmed baking sheet in the center of oven and preheat to 350°. Working in 2–3 batches and keeping remaining dough covered, slide 2 thin metal spatulas from opposite sides underneath dough, also getting underneath cornmeal to avoid sticking or deflating dough, and transfer to skillet (do not overcrowd). Cook until bottoms are dark golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Turn and cook until other side is dark golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Using spatula, transfer muffins to preheated sheet in oven and bake until cooked through and sides are dry to the touch but still spring back, 5–10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Let muffins cool at least 30 minutes before splitting with a fork and serving.

Do Ahead: English muffins can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool and store in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature. Toast lightly before serving.

Classic French Toast

6 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
6 3/4 inch-thick slices challah, brioche, or Pullman loaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Pure maple syrup, jam, or powdered sugar (for serving)

Preheat oven to 250°. Lightly beat eggs, cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a large shallow baking dish (a lasagna pan is perfect). Add bread, turn to coat, then press down gently on bread until you feel it start to soak up custard mixture—this is key for a luscious, not dry, texture. Let soak, 10 minutes.

Flip bread and soak on second side, pressing down gently from time to time, until bread is saturated but not soggy, another 10 minutes or so.

Heat 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When foaming subsides, carefully lift 3 slices of bread from custard, letting excess drip back into dish, and cook in skillet until golden brown and center of toast springs back when pressed, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer toast to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven while you cook remaining slices of bread with 1 Tbsp. butter and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.

Serve French toast with butter, maple syrup, jam, and/or powdered sugar.

From Bon Appetit.

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil (for griddle)
Pure maple syrup (for serving)

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and butter in a medium bowl; stir into dry ingredients until just combined (some lumps are okay).

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium; brush with oil. Working in batches, scoop ?-cupfuls of batter onto griddle. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through and other side of pancakes are golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Serve pancakes with maple syrup.

From Bon Appetit.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs (with Variations)

4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Flaky sea salt (for serving)

Crack eggs into a medium bowl and add kosher salt. Using an immersion blender or whisk, whip eggs until completely homogenous and pale yellow in color, about 30 seconds.

Cook butter in an 8″ nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When foam subsides, add eggs and cook, undisturbed, until a thin layer of cooked egg appears around the edge of the skillet. Using a rubber spatula and broad sweeping motions, push eggs all the way around the circumference of the skillet, then across the bottom. Continue to push eggs around and across skillet until fluffy and barely set, about 2 minutes; they should still look runny on top. Immediately divide between 2 plates and sprinkle with sea salt.

Feta and Za’atar

Stir 2 Tbsp. crumbled feta and 1/4 tsp. za’atar into eggs halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and more za’atar just before serving.

Parmesan and Basil

Stir 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan and 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil into eggs halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and more basil just before serving.

Soy and Scallion

Add ½ tsp. soy sauce to eggs before whipping. Stir 2 trimmed, thinly sliced scallions into eggs halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt just before serving.

Cream Cheese and Chives

Stir 1 Tbsp. cream cheese and 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives into eggs halfway through cooking. Top with flaky sea salt and more chives just before serving.

Hot Cheddar

Stir 2 Tbsp. grated cheddar into eggs halfway through cooking. Top with flaky sea salt and hot sauce just before serving.

From Bon Appetit.

Enriched Chicken Stock

2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1 pound chicken wings
1 pound lean beef brisket, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 small celery root (10 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large tomato, cored and quartered
6 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken wings and beef and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the carrots, onion, celery root and tomato. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are barely softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat for 30 minutes. Strain the stock, reserving the meat and vegetables for another use. Refrigerate the stock and remove the fat from the surface before using or freezing.

Make Ahead: The stock can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

FOR THE MACARONI AND CHEESE:
1 pound elbows, shells, cavatappi, farfalle, fusilli or other short, tube-shaped pasta
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
Freshly ground pepper
12 ounces sharp or white Cheddar cheese, grated
12 ounces fontina or Gruyère, grated

FOR THE TOPPING (OPTIONAL):
1 cup coarse bread crumbs or panko
4 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until it’s barely al dente. (It should be more al dente than your average pasta: It’s going to continue to cook in the oven.) Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium pot over medium heat. (The pot should be large enough to hold all the pasta when cooked.) Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is foamy and just starting to turn a light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk to avoid clumping. Add garlic, paprika and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly and paying special attention to the edges of the pot to make sure the flour mixture is totally incorporated.

Add grated cheese and whisk to blend until the cheese is completely melted. (The sauce will seem thick at first and thin out as the cheese melts; it will thicken while it bakes.) Season with salt and pepper and add cooked pasta, stirring to coat well.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (to catch any cheesy drips).

Make the optional topping: Combine bread crumbs, melted butter and Parmesan, if using, in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and, using your hands, mix well to ensure the bread crumbs are evenly coated.

Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture to a 3-quart or 9 x 13 baking dish and scatter bread crumbs, if using, evenly over the top. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until macaroni and cheese is bubbling, thickened and creamy, and bread crumbs are evenly golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Hush Puppies

2 cups cornmeal
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup grated onion
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 large egg yolk
1 cup buttermilk
6 large egg whites
Canola oil, for frying

In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Stir in onions.

Combine egg yolk and buttermilk; stir into cornmeal mixture until combined.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff.

Gently fold into cornmeal mixture.

Fill a large deep skillet with 2 to 3 inches oil. Heat oil until it reaches 375* on a deep-fry thermometer.

Working in batches, drop batter 1 t at a time into the oil and cook, turning once until the hush puppies rise to the surface and are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Serve immediately.

Basic Southern Greens

4 pounds fresh turnip greens
4 ounces smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
6 cups of water (more as needed)
Salt as needed

Remove and discard stems and discolored spots from greens. Chop greens, and wash thoroughly two to three time to insure no grit; set aside in a large bowl.

Roughly chop raw bacon and render in a large stockpot over low heat for 5 minutes before adding chopped onion.

Increase to medium high heat and cook until onions are translucent.

Add diced ham, crushed red pepper, brown sugar, vinegar and water and bring to a boil.

Add cleaned,chopped greens and simmer for approximately four hours, stirring occasionally and adding extra water if needed.

Once greens are fully cooked and tender, taste for seasoning and add salt if desired.

Note: The juice from cooking the turnip greens is called “Pot Liquor” and can be used as a dip for your biscuits or cornbread.

Basic Cornbread

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk

Mix it all together until smooth. Pour into a black iron skillet that has been greased with butter or bacon fat. Bake in a 425-degree oven until top is brown and firm.

A little more elaborate (from Simply Recipes):

1 tablespoon bacon drippings
2 cups cornmeal OR 1 1/2 cups cornmeal and 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 large egg (optional)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat pan with bacon drippings: Put the bacon drippings in a 9 or 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven. Then preheat the oven to 400°F with the skillet inside. (If you don’t have an iron skillet, you can use an uncovered Dutch oven or a metal cake pan.)

Make the batter: Whisk together all the dry ingredients (cornmeal, baking soda, salt, sugar if using) in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg (if using) and buttermilk until combined, then mix that into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter.

Pour batter into hot skillet and bake: When the oven is hot, take out the skillet (carefully, as the handle will be hot!). Add the cornbread batter and make sure it is evenly distributed in the skillet.

Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

4 Rest bread in skillet, then serve: Let the bread rest for 10 to 30 minutes in the skillet before cutting it into wedges and serving.

To store, let the cornbread cool, then remove from pan and wrap in plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temp for 2 to 3 days

Boston Baked Beans

1 POUND EUROPEAN SOLDIER, WHITE NAVY, or YELLOW EYE BEANS, soaked (page 21)
2 TEASPOONS DRY MUSTARD
1 TABLESPOON TOMATO PASTE
1 TEASPOON SALT
1/3CUP DARK MOLASSES
1/4 CUP LIGHTLY PACKED BROWN SUGAR
2 TABLESPOONS MAPLE SYRUP
1/2 POUND SALT PORK, rinsed, dried, and scored in several places with a sharp knife (optional)
1/2 LARGE YELLOW ONION, thinly sliced
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Put the beans and their soaking water in a stockpot and add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are beginning to soften, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Drain the beans, reserving the broth. If necessary add enough water to the broth to measure 2 cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the broth, mustard, tomato paste, salt, molasses, brown sugar, and maple syrup.

Put half of the beans in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid. Top with the salt pork (if using) and half of the sliced onion. Add the remaining beans and top with the remaining onion.

Pour the broth mixture over the beans, cover, and bake until the beans are soft, the pork is meltingly tender, and the sauce is thick and clings to the beans, 5 to 7 hours. Stop and check occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid in the beans, and add water if necessary, but not too much. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Basic Black Beans

1 POUND BLACK VALENTINE BEANS, soaked
2 TABLESPOONS SAFFLOWER or GRAPESEED OIL
1 SMALL WHITE ONION, chopped
2 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
1/2 MEDIUM GREEN BELL PEPPER, seeded and chopped
1 JALAPEÑO CHILE, CHOPPED
2 TABLESPOONS CIDER VINEGAR
1/4 CUP FRESH CILANTRO LEAVES
1/4 TEASPOON SPANISH SMOKED PAPRIKA
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Put the beans and their soaking water in a stockpot and add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by at least 1 inch. Bring to a rapid boil and cook for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat so that the beans are barely simmering and cook until the beans are nearly soft, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm the safflower oil. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and chile and sauté until the vegetables are very aromatic and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar, cilantro, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.

(Skip this step if making Moros y Cristos.) Scoop 1 cup of the beans from the pot and add to the skillet. Using a potato masher, mash the beans with the sofrito.

Add sofrito to the pot of simmering beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until the beans are tender and flavorful, 30 to 40 minutes.

Basic Borracho Beans

Ingredients

4 cups cooked pinto, Rio Sape, red Appaloosa, or Anasazi beans, in their broth
1 bottle lager beer
2 slices high-quality bacon, diced
1/2 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 to 4 Serrano chiles, seeded if desired and chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
Lime wedges for serving

In a stockpot over medium heat, warm the beans and their broth. Add the beer and simmer to cook off some of the beer, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the bacon until the fat is nearly rendered and the bacon is brown, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and chiles, and sauté over medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked bacon.

Add the mixture to the beans, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.

Serve the beans with warm tortillas and lime wedges.

Adapted from Rancho Gordo (omits mushrooms)

Basic Pot Beans

1 TABLESPOON LARD or EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1/2 MEDIUM WHITE or RED ONION, chopped
2 GARLIC CLOVES, smashed
1 POUND BEANS OF YOUR CHOICE, soaked (page 21)
SALT
4 KEY LIMES, cut in half, for serving
FINELY CHOPPED WHITE or RED ONION, for serving
1/4 CUP CHOPPED FRESH CILANTRO for serving

In a stock pot, over medium heat, warm the lard.

Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and their soaking water. Add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by at least 1 inch.

Raise the heat to high, bring to a rapid boil, and cook for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat so that the beans are barely simmering and cook, partially covered, until the beans are soft, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Season the beans judiciously with salt, keeping in mind that it takes time for the beans to absorb the salt.

Ladle the beans into warmed bowls.

Diners top their servings with a squeeze of key lime, a spoonful of chopped onions, and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Basic Dried Beans

There is not one single method of cooking beans. At its most basic, you want to simmer the pot until the beans are soft. Soaking can speed up the process and vegetables or stock will make them more flavorful. It’s really that simple. There’s all kinds of fine tuning and variables, but basically, this is it.

Normally on a bean cooking day (which frankly is everyday at Rancho Gordo), I put the beans to soak in the morning, after rinsing in lots of cool water and checking for small debris. I cover the beans by about an inch or so. If you haven’t soaked, don’t fret. Go ahead and cook them, knowing it will take a bit longer.

Heirloom and heritage varieties don’t need a lot of fussing if they are used fresh, which I’d define as within two years. You can use a ham bone, chicken stock or as I prefer, simply a few savory vegetables. A classic mirepoix is a mix of onion, celery and carrot diced fine and sautéed in some kind of fat, often olive oil. A crushed clove of garlic doesn’t hurt. If I’m cooking Mexican or Southwestern, I will sauté just onion and garlic in mild bacon drippings or even freshly rendered lard.

Add the beans and their soaking water to a large pot. You have been told before to change the water and rinse the beans. The thinking now is that vitamins and flavor can leech out of the beans into the soaking water you are throwing down the sink. There is conflicting scientific evidence that changing the water cuts down on the gas. If you want to, do it. If it seems unnecessary, don’t.

If you’ve soaked them, the beans will have expanded, so make sure they are still covered by at least an inch, maybe a bit more. Add the sautéed vegetables and give a good stir. Raise your heat to medium high and bring to a hard boil. Keep the beans at a boil for about ten to fifteen minutes. After so many years, I think this is the moment that really matters. You have to give them a good hard boil to let them know you’re the boss and then reduce them to a gentle simmer, before covering. I like to see how low I can go and still get the occasional simmering bubble. Open and close the lid, or keep it ajar to help control the heat and allow evaporation. The bean broth will be superior if it’s had a chance to breathe and evaporate a little.

When the beans are almost ready, the aroma will be heady. They won’t smell so much like the vegetables you’ve cooked but the beans themselves. At this point, I’d go ahead and salt them. Go easy as it takes awhile for the beans to absorb the salt. If you want to add tomatoes or acids like lime or vinegar, wait until the beans are cooked through.

If the bean water starts to get low, always add hot water from a tea kettle. Many believe that cold water added to cooking beans will harden them. At the very least, it will make the cooking take that much longer to bring them back to a simmer. We don’t recommend using hot tap water, straight from a water heater. Better to heat the tap water in a tea kettle or pan first.

So you’re done! Once you’ve mastered this method, go ahead and try some different techniques. Your bean friends will swear by this or that method and you should take their advice, keeping in mind there are few absolutes when it comes to cooking beans, only that it’s very hard work to mess up a pot of beans.

Here’s a printer-friendly PDF of Cooking Basic Beans in The Rancho Gordo Manner

Cooking beans in a crockpot:

Sauté half of a chopped onion in about one tablespoon of fat (oil, lard, bacon fat, etc.). Place in a crockpot along with any other aromatics you’d like (such as Mexican oregano, garlic, bay leaf), followed by beans that have been picked over and rinsed. Cover with water (about one part beans to three or four parts water). Turn the heat to “high” and give the contents a stir. Do this in the morning, and your beans should be done by the afternoon. Cooking time will be 4-6 hours, depending on your crockpot and the variety of beans.

Cooking beans in a pressure cooker:

First consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the exact method for your model. Place cleaned beans in the pressure cooker and cover with three or four parts water. Generally, you want to cook under pressure for 20 minutes, release, and then cook open on the stovetop for another 20 minutes.

Some handy cooking and storing tips:

You can expect 1 cup of dried beans to yield about 3 cups cooked beans. One pound of dried beans (which is about 2 cups) will yield about 6 cups cooked beans.

Our beans are so fresh that soaking is not needed. It will, however, speed up the cooking time and can help the beans to cook more evenly, so if you have the time to do it, it won’t hurt. We don’t recommend soaking more than 6 hours or the beans may begin to sprout.

Many believe that adding salt (or acids like tomatoes and vinegar) too early in the cooking process prevents the beans from getting soft. We find this especially true with older beans.

You can store leftover cooked beans in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and you can freeze them as well. If you are storing beans in the refrigerator, keep them in their cooking liquid so they don’t dry out.

If a recipe calls for drained beans, be sure to save the extra liquid. You can use it for many things, including poaching eggs, adding moisture to dishes, and making soups.

Store dried beans in a cool, dark place. It’s fine to keep them in their Rancho Gordo packaging, although some prefer to transfer them to a glass jar with a lid or an airtight container. They should be good for about 2 years. After that, they are still edible but the quality will begin to decline.

Colicchio’s Dinner Rolls

Dough:
3/4 cup warm milk about 110F
1 tsp instant or dry active yeast
1 tsp Barley malt or 2/3 tsp molasses
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp coarse Kosher salt, or 1 tsp fine table salt *reduce if using salted butter
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter softened

Topping:
Melted butter for brushing
Finishing Salt such as Fleur de Sel or Maldon’s

Stir together milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add to milk mixture along with softened butter and stir with a wooden spoon or mix with mixer until a dough forms. Knead 5-6 minutes, adding additional flour as needed, to produce a smooth, moist dough.

Remove to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 – 3 hours. *Trust your eyes here and not the clock. You will want to let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, however long that takes. I find it helpful to rise in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, so it’s easy to see when it has doubled.

Punch down dough and let rise again until doubled again, about 2 hours (or until doubled in size).

Meanwhile, melt a bit of butter and brush on a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Remove dough to a floured surface and divide into 8-10 equal sized pieces. Form pieces into balls and place into the buttered 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. (4 or 5 rows of two rolls, spaced evenly in the pan).

Cover pan with a clean tea towel and let rise until puffy and about doubled, about 2 hours more.

Preheat oven to 350F. When rolls are risen, brush with melted butter and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden.

Remove from oven. Let stand a minute, then remove from pan to a cooling rack.

Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle tops with finishing salt.

Remove from pan and serve warm.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz dry macaroni (1 2/3 cups measured in a 2 cup glass liquid measure. Note that this measure will only work for macaroni and probably not a larger pasta shape. Weighing is recommended.)

Cheese Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
7 oz Good aged white crumbly cheddar crumbled
3 oz Another variety orange sharp cheddar or cold-packed cheddar grated or crumbled
1/2 tsp kosher salt little less if using table salt
1/4 tsp regular chili powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Topping:
1/2 oz aged cheddar grated
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder

Add water and a bit of salt to a large pot and place over high heat for the pasta. While it’s heating, prepare the cheese sauce.

For the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk and cook for about 2 minutes.

Very slowly add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Once all the milk has been added, cook, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. (Don’t rush this step. The mixture will not be thick, but will noticeably thicken after 8-10 minutes of cooking).

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all the ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. (If the cheese isn’t melted completely after about 3 minutes, you can put the pan back on low heat and stir until it is melted). Set aside for a minute.

Preheat oven to 350F (175C) with rack in the centre of the oven. Oil or butter an 8-inch square baking dish, an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or individual baking dishes.

When the pasta water is boiling, add the macaroni and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions indicate. (The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce in the oven). When the pasta is cooked, drain and immediately rinse well with cold water. Make sure your pasta is well drained.

Add the cooked pasta and to the cheese sauce and mix gently, but thoroughly. (It might look like too much sauce or too little pasta, but trust me, it will all be good in the end).

Spoon or ladle the mixture into a prepared baking dish or individual dishes. Sprinkle the top of each with a bit of additional grated sharp cheddar cheese (you don’t need a lot here, as there is plenty in the sauce), then sprinkle with the chipotle chili powder.

Bake in the preheated 350F (175C) oven uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce has bubbled up around the edges and the top has a nice golden crust. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.