Spinach Salad with Beets and Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the Salad
Optional: pecan halves (or walnuts, toasted)
2 to 3 slices bacon (diced, or about 3 ounces of diced pancetta)
1 pound beets (trimmed, cooked, peeled, and diced)
4 cups spinach
1/4 cup red onion (thinly sliced)
Optional: shredded cheese (or crumbled goat cheese or feta)
For the Dressing
1 clove garlic (crushed and minced)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or a similar gourmet mustard)
4 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil

Arrange the pecans or walnuts in a dry skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the nuts are lightly browned and aromatic.

In a skillet over medium heat, fry the diced bacon until crisp or fry the pancetta until browned.

Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Dice the bacon and set aside.

Arrange spinach leaves on 4 salad plates. Top with diced beets, diced bacon or pancetta, red onion, and pecans or walnuts. If desired, top with cheese.

In a skillet over medium heat, fry the diced bacon until crisp or fry the pancetta until browned.

Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Dice the bacon and set aside.

Arrange spinach leaves on 4 salad plates. Top with diced beets, diced bacon or pancetta, red onion, and pecans or walnuts. If desired, top with cheese.

In a bowl or blender, combine the garlic, salt, pepper, mustard, honey, and balsamic vinegar. Whisk or blend in the olive oil in a steady stream.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

Tips
Boiled Beets: To boil beets, first start by washing and trimming the beets, leaving about 2 inches of the stem and root ends. Place the beets in a large saucepan and cover with salted water (about 1 teaspoon of salt per quart). Add a few teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to the water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for about 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets.

Roasted Beets: To roast beets, first wash the beets and trim, leaving an inch or two on the stem and root ends. Rub the beets with a little vegetable oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper; wrap in foil and bake at 375 F for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. The time varies depending on the size of the beets. You can also roast the beets in the slow cooker.

Spinach Salad with Eggs and Warm Bacon Dressing

10 to 12 ounces fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup minced red onion
5 to 6 radishes, thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs,* 1 chopped, 1 sliced
2 to 4 slices bacon
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place prepared spinach in a large bowl. Add onions and radishes.

Refrigerate the salad, tightly covered.

Fry or microwave bacon until crisp; remove to paper towel and set aside.

In a small jar or measuring cup combine the bacon drippings with sugar, vinegar, water, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate all ingredients until just before serving.

When ready to serve, microwave the dressing on HIGH for 30 to 45 seconds, or until mixture boils. Toss the chopped egg with the greens then pour the hot dressing over greens mixture; toss again lightly.

Arrange the salad on salad plates and top each with a few slices of egg and crumbled bacon.

*In a saucepan, cover 2 large eggs with water. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a full rolling boil. Cover the saucepan and remove the pan from the heat. Let stand for 12 to 15 minutes. Run cold water over the eggs and peel them.

Tips

Make Ahead: Prepare the spinach, onion, and radishes in a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate. Prepare the eggs and bacon and refrigerate them in separate containers. Prepare the dressing and refrigerate. Just before serving time, toss the chopped egg with the spinach salad mixture. Heat the dressing; drizzle over the salad and toss. Garnish with the sliced eggs and bacon.

Variations

Add about 1/4 cup of pine nuts, sunflower seeds, toasted slivered almonds, or toasted pecans to the salad for additional crunch.

Add about 1/4 cup of raisins or dried cranberries to the salad.

Add sliced fresh mushrooms to the salad.

Omit the radishes, if desired.?

Pressure Cooker North Carolina Pulled Pork

Pork

2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 cup beer (such as lager, Pilsner, or amber)

Vinegar Sauce

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
4 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Mix first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add pork and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Press Warm; set timer for 30 minutes (add or subtract time as needed) and press Start to heat the pressure cooker. Heat oil in pot. Working in batches, add pork and cook until browned; transfer to plate. Add broth, beer, and browned pork, with any juices from the plate, to pot. Lock lid in place, making sure vent is sealed. Press Warm; set timer for 42 minutes and press Start to cook.

Release pressure manually by opening vent. Remove lid. Transfer pork to a platter and let cool. Discard cooking liquid.

Vinegar Sauce

Combine all ingredients in the cleaned pot. Press Warm; set timer for 15 minutes and press Start. Bring to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, shred pork with your fingers. Serve with vinegar sauce.

From Bon Appetit.

Cassoulet

Duck Confit:
6 duck legs
6 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 3 Tbsp. plus 2½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
4 sprigs thyme
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. juniper berries (optional)

Beans:
2 whole cloves
1 large onion, peeled, halved through root end
1 1/2 lb. dried Tarbais, corona, or cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained
8 oz. pancetta (leave in 1 thick piece)
2 carrots, scrubbed, halved crosswise if large
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Pork Ragù:

1 1/2 lb. skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 1″ pieces
1 1/2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large carrot, peeled, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
Assembly

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 lb. fresh pork sausage (such as Toulouse, sweet Italian, or unsmoked kielbasa)
3 cups medium-fine fresh breadcrumbs, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, halved lengthwise
1 lb. precooked garlic sausage, sliced crosswise ¼” thick (optional)

Two Days Ahead

Cure Duck Legs

Prick skin on duck legs all over with the tip of a paring knife. Rub legs with salt, making sure to massage into flesh and skin.

Place legs in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto legs. Rest a plate on top of legs and weigh down with several 28-oz. cans. Chill at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

Note: If you’re going to cook the beans and ragout and combine tomorrow, soak the beans tonight. If not, just remember to soak them the day before you want to cook them.
One Day Ahead

Confit Duck Legs

Preheat oven to 250°. Evenly scatter thyme, garlic, peppercorns, and juniper berries (if using) across a large baking dish or roasting pan and add 2 Tbsp. water.

Remove duck legs from bowl. Rinse off salt and arrange legs, skin side down, over aromatics in baking dish. Cover dish tightly with foil and weigh down with a cast-iron skillet or a heavy baking dish. Bake until fat renders out of duck and legs are submerged, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove baking dish from oven and remove skillet and foil. Turn legs skin side up and nestle back into fat. Cover dish again with foil and continue to cook legs, unweighted, until duck meat is very tender and bones wiggle easily in joints, 2–2½ hours longer.

Let legs cool in fat until you can handle them, then transfer with tongs or a spider to a plate. Strain ¼ cup fat through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl and let cool. Cover and set aside for cooking the breadcrumbs. Strain remaining fat into an airtight container; cover and reserve for another use (like roasting potatoes).

Remove skin from legs, trying to keep as intact as possible; transfer skin to an airtight container. Cover and chill. Pull duck meat from bones, tearing into 2″ pieces; discard bones and cartilage. Place meat in another airtight container; cover and chill. You won’t need the skin, meat, or fat until you’re ready to assemble the cassoulet.

Do Ahead: Duck legs can be confited 3 weeks ahead. Transfer legs to a large nonreactive vessel; strain fat through a fine-mesh sieve over meat. Cover and chill. Let come to room temperature before using. Meat and skin can be prepared 3 days ahead; keep chilled.
Cook the Beans

Stick a clove into each onion half. Place in a large pot along with beans, pancetta, carrots, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf; pour in cold water to cover beans by 2″. Season with several grinds of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Partially cover pot and cook beans, skimming surface occasionally and adding more water as needed to keep beans submerged and seasoning with a couple of pinches of salt after about 30 minutes, until beans are tender but not falling apart, 45–60 minutes for cannellini and 1–1½ hours for Tarbais or corona. Remove pot from heat; pluck out and discard onion, carrots, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Transfer pancetta to a cutting board; let cool slightly, then cut into 1x¼” pieces. Add back to pot and let mixture cool.

Cook Ragout

Meanwhile, sprinkle pork with 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt and several grinds of pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Working in 2 batches, cook pork, turning once, until browned all over, 10–12 minutes per batch; transfer to a plate as you go.

Reduce heat to medium and place onion, carrot, and garlic in pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 8–10 minutes. Return pork to pot and add thyme, bay leaf, tomatoes, and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover pot, and simmer gently, skimming fat occasionally, until meat is fork-tender, 1¾–2 hours. Pluck out and discard thyme and bay leaf. Let ragout cool slightly.

Combine Beans and Ragout

Using a slotted spoon, transfer bean mixture to pot with ragout. Add enough cooking liquid from beans just to cover. Pour remaining bean cooking liquid into an airtight container and chill; you may need it for finishing the cassoulet later. Let ragout mixture cool completely, then cover and chill at least 12 hours.

Do Ahead: Ragout and beans can be combined 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
The Day Of

Temper and Season Ragout Mixture

Remove ragout mixture from refrigerator and skim fat from surface; discard. Cover pot and bring ragout to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Taste and season conservatively with salt and pepper if needed (the duck will add considerable saltiness when mixed in).

Prepare Sausage and Breadcrumbs

Remove reserved duck meat and skin from refrigerator. Let meat come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, arrange skin in a single layer in an 8-qt. Dutch oven or other heavy pot (the same one you’ll cook the cassoulet in). Cook over low heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 20–30 minutes. Using tongs, transfer skin to paper towels and blot away excess fat.

Prick pork sausages all over with a fork and cook in fat in same pot, turning occasionally, until browned all over and cooked through, 12–15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly. Cut into 2″ pieces.

Add breadcrumbs to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden in spots and starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. If breadcrumbs seem very dry or are sticking to the pot, add 1–2 Tbsp. reserved duck fat. Transfer breadcrumbs to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Add parsley and toss to combine. Wipe out pot and let cool.

Layer Cassoulet

Rub inside of cooled pot with cut sides of garlic; ladle in one-third of ragout mixture. Top with half of pork sausage, garlic sausage, and duck meat, then another third of ragout mixture. Top with remaining duck meat and sausages, then remaining ragout mixture. Liquid should come to top of beans. Add reserved bean cooking liquid if needed.

Do Ahead: Cassoulet can be assembled 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before proceeding. Store breadcrumbs and duck skin separately airtight at room temperature.
Bake Cassoulet

Preheat oven to 375°. Scatter two-thirds of breadcrumb mixture over cassoulet.

Bake, uncovered, until a golden crust forms, 25–30 minutes. Remove from oven and use a spoon to break up crust, pressing very gently so crust absorbs a little liquid; smooth surface. Bake until another crust forms, 25–30 minutes; break up again. Repeat process 2 more times (for a total of 4 times). If mixture starts to look dry, moisten with a bit of reserved bean cooking liquid when breaking up the crust.

Top cassoulet with remaining breadcrumb mixture; bake until golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Let rest at least 25 minutes before serving.

Divide cassoulet among bowls; crumble duck skin over.

Source: Bon Appetit

Pomegranate Jalapeno Glazed Ham

One 7-pound, bone-in, spiral-cut smoked ham
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
20 whole cloves
One 10-ounce jar jalapeño jelly (1 cup)
1 cup sweetened pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 325°. Place the ham in a large roasting pan and add the chicken stock. Stud the ham all over with the cloves.

In a medium saucepan, bring the jalapeño jelly, pomegranate juice and lemon juice to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, cinnamon and ginger and simmer until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes.

Drizzle half of the glaze over the ham and cover with foil. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, basting frequently, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the ham registers 125°. Remove the foil and brush the ham with any remaining glaze. Roast for 30 minutes longer, until the top is lightly caramelized. Transfer to a platter. Discard the cloves. Pour the pan juices into a bowl and serve with the ham.

Maple Sugar and Ginger Roast Pork

2 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin roast, tied
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons maple sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Blood orange slices, red currants and sprigs of mint, for garnish (optional)

Using a small, sharp knife, make thin slits all over the pork loin roast and slip a garlic slice into each one.

In a small bowl, mix the maple sugar with the ginger, salt, red pepper and olive oil. Rub the paste all over the pork, wrap it well in plastic and refrigerate overnight in a small roasting pan; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Roast the pork for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400° and roast the pork for about 35 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 135°.

Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Discard the string and carve the pork into thin slices. Arrange on a platter, garnish with the orange slices, red currants and mint and serve.

Standing Pork Rib Roast with Cracklings

One 8-rib pork loin roast with skin (about 5 1/2 pounds)—ribs frenched, skin scored at 1/2-inch intervals and tied
1/2 cup kosher salt

Place the pork loin on a rimmed baking sheet. Season generously all over with 1/4 cup of the salt, then sprinkle the skin with the remaining 1/4 cup of salt to create a thin layer of salt over it; be sure to push the salt into the crevices in the skin at each score. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.

Let the pork stand at room temperature for 3 hours. ?Preheat the oven to 275°. Set ?a rack in a large roasting pan. Using a damp towel, brush the excess salt off the roast, then transfer to the pan skin side up. Bake for about 1 hour and ?30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 115°.

Increase the heat to 450° and continue to roast for about 50 minutes longer, until the skin is crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 135°. Transfer the roast to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the ties. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the meat and serve.

Borlotti Beans over Polenta

TOMATO SAUCE:
3 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER
1/2 MEDIUM YELLOW ONION, chopped
1 MEDIUM FENNEL BULB, trimmed and chopped
3 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
4 TEASPOONS CHOPPED FRESH OREGANO
1/4 TEASPOON RED PEPPER FLAKES
SALT
1 SMALL CARROT, peeled and shredded
ONE 28-OUNCE CAN WHOLE SAN MARZANO TOMATOES or plum tomatoes
FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
2 CUPS DRAINED, COOKED BORLOTTI BEANS
1/3 CUP CHOPPED FRESH FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY

POLENTA:
4 CUPS WATER
1 TEASPOON SALT
1 CUP POLENTA
2 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER
1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE, plus more for garnishing
FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Optional: cooked Italian sausage, to serve on top of the finished dish.

For a streamlined process,make the tomato sauce and the beans ahead and heat them together while you cook the polenta.

Make the sauce: In a small Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onion, the fennel, the garlic, 2 teaspoons of the oregano, the red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the carrot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, stirring to break them up with a wooden spoon. Add another pinch of salt.

Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, at the barest simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are reduced and beginning to separate from the oil, at least 2 hours or up to 3 hours.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oregano and salt and pepper to taste. The sauce can be made up to this point 1 or 2 days ahead; let cool and refrigerate.

Make the polenta:
About 45 minutes before serving, bring the water to a boil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the salt and, whisking continuously, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring nearly constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, the grains soften, and the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes.

Stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and season with pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Add the beans to the tomato sauce and warm them together over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parsley about 5 minutes before serving.

Spoon the polenta into warmed shallow bowls and make a well in the center of each serving. Spoon the tomato sauce into the well. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Substitution Note: This dish is best made with a rich, creamy bean. If borlotti are unavailable, try French horticulture, or wren’s egg.

Lima Beans (Baby or Christmas) with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

1/2 POUND FLORIDA BUTTER BEANS or CHRISTMAS LIMAS, soaked
4 SLICES HIGH-QUALITY BACON, diced
2 1/2 MEDIUM YELLOW ONIONS
2 CELERY STALKS, diced
2 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
SALT
3/4 TEASPOON CHOPPED FRESH THYME LEAVES 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, partially covered, until the beans are beginning to soften, about 1 hour.

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and reserve.

Chop half of an onion and add to the pan over medium heat. Add the celery and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add to the beans, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When the beans are nearly soft, season them with salt.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining 2 whole onions in half, then cut into thin slices. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, pour in 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, and set over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and a few pinches of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions wilt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are medium brown, soft, and caramelized, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Add 2 tablespoons water and stir to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the bacon to the caramelized onions and heat gently.

Top each serving of beans with some of the caramelized onion–bacon mixture.

Jacob’s Cattle Beans with Pancetta and Sage

1/2 POUND JACOB’S CATTLE BEANS, soaked (page 21)
3 TABLESPOONS EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, plus more for drizzling
1/2 MEDIUM YELLOW ONION, chopped
1 MEDIUM CARROT, peeled and chopped
2 CELERY STALKS, chopped
3 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
1/4 POUND PANCETTA, diced
2 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED FRESH SAGE
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
FRESHLY GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE for garnishing

Put the beans and their soaking water in a soup pot 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, partially covered, until beans just begin to soften, about 30 minutes.

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, warm the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, pancetta, 1 tablespoon of the sage, and a little salt and pepper, and sauté very slowly to draw out the flavor of the aromatics and pancetta, about 20 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables and pancetta to brown.

Add the vegetables and pancetta to the beans, season with salt, and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Check the water level often and add more water if needed. This dish is best when the beans are a little soupy.

During the final 5 minutes of cooking, add the remaining 1 tablespoon sage and adjust the seasonings.

Serve the beans in warmed shallow bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Substitution Note: Cranberry beans will also work nicely in this simple recipe, or try Good Mother Stallard beans.

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 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)

Red (or Black) Beans and Rice

1 pound dried beans, such as Red Nightfall or Sangre de Toro
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
10 1/2-ounce can chicken broth
1 cup red wine
3 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 pound smoked ham hocks
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups hot white rice

Chopped scallions for garnish

Wash beans well and sort through them, removing any pebbles or impurities. Place beans in a pot, cover with water and soak overnight.

When ready to cook, drain beans and set aside.

Sauté onion, green pepper, celery, garlic and jalapeño in oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat, uncovered, until soft (about 10 minutes).

Add beans to the pot, along with chicken broth, red wine, water, bay leaf, ham hocks, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and taste to adjust seasoning.

Simmer, covered, for 2 hours, stirring frequently.
Remove ham hocks after 2 hours. Continue to simmer beans for another 30 minutes, or until the liquid in the beans has a thick, creamy consistency.

As soon as the ham hocks are cool enough to work with, remove all meat from the bones, and shred it. Return meat to the beans.

Divide the hot rice among 4 wide, shallow serving bowls. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the bean mixture over the rice in each bowl; you’ll have a little bean mixture left over.

Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.

You can also replace the red beans with a firm, creamy bean like Midnight Black Bean.

If you wish to add andouille, tasso or chicken to this recipe, to make it meatier still . . . go right ahead!

Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. Rancho Gordo Sangre de Toro Beans
2 tbs. cooking oil (we like grapeseed or vegetable)
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, grated
2 ribs celery, diced
5 large garlic cloves, diced
3 tsp. smoked paprika
1 smoked ham hock or 3/4 lb. smoked ham, diced (optional)
2 dried bay leaves
3 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
Balsamic vinegar, to taste (we used about two big dashes)
A few dashes of Hot sauce (optional)
Salt, to taste (if you can, get Smoked Sea Salt — adds a nice smoky flavor)

Cooked white rice for serving

Pickled onions, for garnish (optional)

Fresh chives and parsley, chopped for garnish

You can soak the beans overnight if you’d like OR, for day-of: cover the beans with water in a big pot and bring to a rolling boil. Boil the beans for about an hour, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Sometimes it takes longer, depending on the age of the beans. Do NOT add salt yet (this slows the cooking process).

When the beans are nearly tender, pour your cooking oil into a pan and sauté the onions, celery, bell pepper, and carrot until fragrant (about 2-3 mins). Add the garlic and smoked paprika, then sauté for another few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the beans, then add the sautéed vegetables to the beans. Add the ham hock (if using), thyme, bay leaves, Worcestershire, balsamic, hot sauce, and just enough water (or veggie stock) to cover.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.

Stirring occasionally, cook for at least 2 hours, or until it’s nice and creamy. The longer you cook it, the better it gets!

Do one final salt check — add a bit more if it needs it.
Pour mixture over cooked white rice and top with pickled onions (if using) and fresh chopped herbs. Serve with good local bread and a glass (or three) of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Citing Two Old Dogs.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool)

1/4 pound diced Apple Smoked Bacon (optional) (we like Hobbs)
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil, (3-4 tablespoons if not using bacon)
1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
3/4 cup diced Roma tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes with juice
1/2 pound Royal Corona or Cassoulet beans, soaked 6-8 hours
4 cups homemade chicken stock or your favorite canned chicken stock
6-8 cups water if necessary
1/2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano chopped
1 cup pasta (your choice shape such as little tubes or broken papardelli noodles
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Da Vero Lemon Olive Oil to drizzle
Vella Dry Jack to grate to taste over the “fazool”

In a large heavy bottom soup pot, sauté bacon until browned. Remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Discard all but about 1-2 tablespoons bacon fat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil (or start with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil if you are not using bacon).

Over medium heat, sauté onions, celery, carrots, and garlic until soft and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beans, stock, oregano, and return bacon to the pot. Simmer over medium heat until beans are tender, about 1 hour (cooking time may vary depending on freshness of beans). You may add water if necessary.

Add pasta and continue cooking until al dente. Remove from heat, stir in the parsley and allow the “fazool” to stand for 10 minutes before serving, to concentrate the flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve: Drizzle individual bowls with lemon olive oil, and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Classic Pasta Fagioli

Serves 4-6

1 lb Baia Pasta Organic Durum Wheat Sardinians (Or try Whole Durum Wheat or Spelt pasta from Baia)
1 1/2 cup of cooked Rancho Gordo Cranberry beans
1 1/2 cup of cooked Rancho Gordo Royal Corona beans
4 cups bean broth from the cooked beans (If you have less than four cups, make up the difference with chicken broth)
4 oz pancetta, cubed or roughly chopped
1 tbs of lard (or 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1 carrot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 rosemary sprig
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbs tomato paste
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste (optional)
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

As you prepare the beans, make sure you have plenty of liquid on hand when they are done as this will be the basis for your sauce.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the soffritto. Melt the lard (or olive oil) in a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Slowly fry the pancetta until fragrant and chewy. Once cooked, remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and let rest on a paper towel. If needed, add more olive oil so there is enough fat to fry the aromatic vegetables.

Add the carrot, celery, garlic and onion until the vegetables are soft and the onion is turning golden colored.

Add the tomato paste and pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes until the paste is heated through and the tomato flavor is intensified.

Add the bean broth and rosemary sprig and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes or so. The liquid should start to reduce.

Cook the pasta in a large stockpot in salted water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Add the drained pasta, beans, and reserved pancetta to the soffritto mixture, mix well and gently cook for a few minutes to marry the various flavors.

Serve immediately with a splash of peppery extra virgin olive oil. Pass around a bowl of grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese for the guests to help themselves.

Pork, Pork, Pork, and Beans

Serves 6-8

1 pound Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans
1 1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in Pork Butt (Shoulder)
5 slices Uncured Rustic Bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips (lardons)
4 links Rustic Pork Sausage, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mirepoix:

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 large stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
14 ounce can diced tomatoes with the juice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
5 branches fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Beans:

3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt, preferably Rancho Gordo Sal de Mar sea salt (from the Yucatan)
2 cups panko crumbs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Seasoning the pork butt: Remove the bone from the pork butt and cut the meat into 1 1/2-to-2 inch chunks. Season all sides of the meat with salt and pepper, and refrigerate it (uncovered) for a day.

Soaking the beans: Put the beans in a bowl and cover with 2-inches cold water. Soak the beans for 4 to 6 hours.

Begin the cooking: Put the bacon into a cold 5 quart enamel cast iron or other heavyweight Dutch oven and place the pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon from for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the fat has rendered and the bacon is just beginning to color. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the mirepoix vegetables together and reserve 1/2 cup for cooking the beans. Add the remaining vegetables to the pan and sauté in the bacon fat, stirring from time to time for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened and are just beginning to color.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Add the wine, thyme and bay leaf. Tuck the pork chunks into the vegetables, leaving the top half of the meat exposed and put (uncovered) in the oven to cook for about 2 hours.

Cooking the beans (while the meat is in the oven):
Heat a medium size enamel cast iron or other heavyweight Dutch oven. Add the oil and the reserved mirepoix and saute about 10 minutes to soften.

Add the beans and their soaking water, adding additional water to reach 2-inches above the beans. Place over medium-high heat, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Continue to boil rapidly for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.

Place the lid slightly ajar (to allow evaporation), and reduce the heat to cook the beans at a gentle simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water as needed to be sure the beans are covered by 2 inches of water at all times; use the lid to control the heat.

After about 1 hour, the smell of beans should be pronounced and you can salt the beans at this point. Add 11/2 tablespoons of salt. Continue to cook until the beans are just tender.

Completing the dish: Once the pork is tender, remove the pieces from the pan. Remove the thyme and bay leaf and discard.

Put the cooked vegetables and any juices into a food processor. Add the smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, a few grinds of black pepper and lemon juice and puree.

Drain the beans and put them in the Dutch oven. Stir in the bacon pieces and the vegetable puree.

Nestle the pork meat and sausages into the beans, leaving the top half of the meat exposed and return to the oven (uncovered) to cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the panko crumbs in a bowl and stir in the butter. Remove the pot from the oven and sprinkle the panko over the top. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the crumbs are a rich golden brown.

Pancetta, Corn, and Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces pancetta, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
4 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 tablespoon Rancho Gordo Oregano Indio
2 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Cassoulet or Marcella beans
2 cups water (or half water and half bean broth)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro for garnish

In a soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta cubes and saute over medium-low heat until tender and chewy, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning.

Add the garlic and onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, oregano, beans, and water, stirring to mix all of the ingredients. Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender and the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Right before serving, you can add some heavy cream if you like. Allow the soup to cook another 2 or 3 minutes to reheat if necessary. Serve in bowls, garnished with fresh herbs.

Posole with Pork and Chipotle

2 cups Rancho Gordo White Posole (prepared hominy)
1 pound pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican Oregano
2 large bay leaves
1 pork bone (optional)
2 cups crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 to 2 chipotles in adobo, membranes and seeds removed, finely minced, plus 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Whole trimmed radishes, for serving (optional)

Soak the hominy overnight in 12 cups (3 quarts) of water. Drain, reserving liquid.

Season the pork well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy 4-quart pot over high heat. Brown the pork well in three to four batches (making sure not to crowd the pot), 2 to 3 minutes on each side. As you finish each batch, transfer it to a platter and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium high. If there is fat in the pan, spoon off all but 1 tablespoon. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for an additional minute.

Stir in 8 cups (2 quarts) of the hominy soaking liquid, the soaked hominy, oregano, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the pork bone (if using).

Over high heat, bring the mixture almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Stir in the tomatoes, chipotle and adobo sauce, and the browned pork, along with any juices accumulated on the platter. Set the cover slightly off center and continue simmering until the pork is fork-tender and the hominy is done (it will be chewy but the center should be soft and somewhat creamy), an additional 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Add more hominy soaking liquid or water if the mixture becomes too thick and threatens to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Remove the pork bone and bay leaves. Adjust the seasoning. Serve in large bowls. Garnish individual bowls with cilantro and serve a bowl of radishes for accompaniment.

Stir-fried Cabbage (with Pork or Chicken)

2 tablespoons oil
6 oz. pork belly, pork loin, or chicken, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, smashed and cut in half
5 dried red chilies, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 1/2 lb. cabbage, hand-shredded into bite sized pieces, washed, and thoroughly dried
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths

In a wok over high heat, add the oil. Sear the meat until caramelized. Add the garlic and chili, turn down the heat to medium, and stir-fry for a minute, taking care not to burn the garlic.

Add the cabbage, wine, soy sauce, sugar, and water. Turn up the heat to high, cover the lid and let the cabbage cook for 1-2 minutes. Uncover the lid, and stir in the dark vinegar, scallions, and salt to taste. The cabbage should be wilted, but still slightly crunchy and caramelized. Serve hot!