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This is one of the perfect uses for leftover ham and ham bones, which perhaps you have from Easter. Deeply satisfying and richly textured, it's a complete meal with some fluffy white rice and/or some tortillas. Two of my favorite blends, Izak and Shabazi, make this dish really shine.
1 pound dry pinto beans, checked over for any pebbles
1/2 tsp baking soda*
2 Tbsp olive oil or bacon fat
1 large onion, chopped
1 ham bone
1 cup chopped leftover ham
3 Tbsp Izak N37
1 Tbsp Shabazi N38
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed well and soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained
3 cups water
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
Soak the beans overnight with the baking soda, then drain.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil or bacon fat, then sauté the onion until translucent.
Add the ham and the bone, Izak, Shabazi, and the drained beans, then add 12 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Taste and adjust salt (you want to it to be mildly salty as it will cook down some, but this is when salt will get into the beans to flavor them). Cook, covered with the lid ajar, for 2 hours. Check the beans for tenderness, and check at 15 minute intervals until they are fully cooked and creamy.
Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottom sauce pot with a lid, mix well and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes, then allow to rest off of the heat for 10 minutes before gently fluffing the rice.
Season to taste with salt and cider vinegar, and serve with rice and/or tortillas and garnish with additional Shabazi and/or Izak as you like.
* The baking soda lowers the ph of the soaking solution, which yields a more tender bean. It's why you also don't want to add acid until the beans are cooked.
• Vegan? Omit the bacon fat, ham, and hambone and add 2 Tbsp of our Cataluña N22 blend. You'll most likely need to add a fair amount of salt as well. I love using red miso for this as it also adds great depth and body.
• I will often cook this dish in a pressure cooker when I'm in a rush. No pre-soak. Add everything except the vinegar to the pot all at once (including the baking soda). Reduce the water to 10 cups. Cook at high pressure for 75 minutes with a natural release.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue
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