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The Rancho Gordo Blog

Fatted Calf's Moroccan Lentil Soup

Other Legumes

Fatted Calf's Moroccan Lentil Soup

We are thrilled to have Lou Bustamante (@thevillagedrunk) doing some guest writing for our blog. He'll be featuring a handful of our favorite bean-friendly spots in the Bay Area. Below is stop one of the Bay Area bean tour. Fatted Calf was started by husband-and-wife team Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller. Miller received her charcuterie skills at the Culinary Institute of America, and Boetticher in 1999 at the acclaimed Café Rouge in Berkeley, known for their whole animal butchery and home-made charcuterie. In 2001, the duo spent a few months training in Chianti, Italy with the famed butcher Dario Cecchini, and...

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The Heirloom Bean Encuentro Menu

The Heirloom Bean Encuentro Menu

These are the different courses from the Heirloom Bean Encuentro. It was a little too much food, which isn't clear from these photos. There was a lot to eat!  As an enthusiastic eater, I will tell you that every course worked. Every single one!  I knew people would want the recipes and I started that day bugging the chefs but then it dawned on me: these talented people are serving 300 guests on a Sunday and they create these amazing dishes and then their thanks is to have to do a home cook-friendly version. I decided to just thank them...

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The 2023 Heirloom Bean Encuentro : Rancho Gordo Bean Supper at Alta Baja Market

The 2023 Heirloom Bean Encuentro : Rancho Gordo Bean Supper at Alta Baja Market

  My friend Delilah Snell is a wee bit nuts, She has the energy of a hurricane, but she also can have the focus of a mathemetician. She loves making people happy but she's absolutely particular about how she wants things done. I love hanging out with her but I also love her commitment to everything she does, which means basically that you need to get on board or get out of the way. I'm happy to get on board.  Last autumn, we had the third Heirloom Bean Encuentro. I just show up and act glamorouos. Delilah and the chefs...

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Testing Techniques for Refried Beans

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Testing Techniques for Refried Beans

I sometimes believe my love of beans came from the can of refried beans my family would use for tostada nights in the late 1960s and 1970s. I loved the power of creating my own tostada, which at that point would not have had a hint of a fresh vegetable but oddly loaded with hot sauce. It was all good but it was the refried beans that made me a lifelong fan of beans.  I don't think there is a lot of debate about the best way to refry beans. White onion is wilted in freshly rendered lard and then...

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Remembering Our Days at the Farmers Markets

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Remembering Our Days at the Farmers Markets

A recent post on our Instagram account has lead me down a nostalgic path. I've always been fortunate but looking back over the years, I had to work really hard to get so lucky!  (with the great Annie Sommerville from Greens Restaurant) People forget. I forget! In the early days, I sold the beans almost exclusively at farmers markets. I couldn't get into the Napa market (which was idiotic but a tale best saved for another time), so I did the Yountville, Calistoga, and St Helena markets in Napa. I quickly expaned to the Grand Lake market in Oakland and...

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Gordo-Con: The Heirloom Bean Encuentro at Alta Baja

On the Road steve sando

Gordo-Con: The Heirloom Bean Encuentro at Alta Baja

Delilah Snell, the genius behind Alta Baja Market, had the idea to celebrate our heirloom beans and throw a real party. Years earlier, we had a nice dinner but this time we wanted to make some noise. COVID is still with us but it's arguably under better control and it's just been too long for some of us. Well, me, in particular. I wanted to have a party!  Delilah had thought of everything so early October, I flew in, checked in and then was whisked off to Carlos Salgado's Taco Maria in Costa Mesa. I've known Carlos casually since the last...

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The Sorana Bean. From Tuscany, With Love

Ingredient Spotlight Italian Misc On the Road

The Sorana Bean. From Tuscany, With Love

Last autumn I was in Italy for the first time in way too long. This was the funny time when we all thought this covid thing was waning and we were heading back to normal. Weren't we cute? Regular followers of Rancho Gordo know of our love and admiration for the amazing Judy Witts Francini. She is a powerhouse of knowledge about the Italian kitchen and nothing makes her happier than sharing her secrets. She has many. Judy arranged for me to meet with some members of the cooperative that is keeping the Sorana bean production going. Unable to meet...

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Happy Harvest: Frijolon Gris

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Happy Harvest: Frijolon Gris

It has been a long time since I played in the garden. I have not been a good steward of my land and as we got busier and busier over the holiday season, I left my precious Oaxacan runner beans to fend for themselves. We experienced a very wet season, followed by several nights with freezing temperatures and the mornings have been foggy. You would have thought my forgotten bean crop would be a goner, but you'd be wrong. Mid-February and this is my harvest. I looked and I saw a few funky pods. When I opened them, the beans...

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Jesús Helguera, Our Calendar Artist

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Jesús Helguera, Our Calendar Artist

One of the first things I did when I started Rancho Gordo was to offer free calendars every year featuring almost exclusively the art of Jesús Helguera. I love the idealized, often policially incorrect, images of post-revolutionary Mexico. There are some real problems but there's a clear sense of Helguera's patriotism, and loads of campy good fun. I asked Karla from our customer service department to do some research on Helguera so we all could know a little more about him. She used an uncredited book I have, Jesus Helguera (1989, Galas de Mexico) for much of the information. -...

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Fennel and Thyme Roasted Beans

In the garden

Fennel and Thyme Roasted Beans

This is a fine recipe from Thomasina Meyers in The Guardian. I asked the staff if they would make it and it was as good as it sounds, although calling it a cassoulet seems like a push. Our Creative Director, Rachel Padilla, ended up being the chef. I love fennel but I tend to overcook it and caramalize it. Here, it's fully cooked and fresh-tasting with just the hint of anise. I would go easier on the breadcrumbs and keep the focus on the beans and the fennel. Rachel used our Alubia Blanca but Cassoulet, Royal Coronas, Ayocote Blanco, or...

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A Grated Salad

In the garden

A Grated Salad

I love salad but the act of making one on a busy night is often not a pleasure for me. This will sound insane but the lettuce bugs me the most. I refuse to buy it bagged and cleaning it isn't that hard but it's a step that can lead me to abandon the salad if the stars aren't aligned. I have several tricks up my sleeve and one is my box grater. I had a large jicama and after peeling it, I grated it and made a salad with orange pieces, red onion, our Oregano Indio, and cilantro. I...

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A Last Meal al fresco Before the Rains: Fish & Shrimp with Alubia Blanca

In the garden

Here in Napa the rains are late. We're nervous but we hear there's a big storm coming in. Typically, it's sunny and clear, and hard to imagine today. I took advantage of one last chance to social distance and break bread with my neighbor, Connie. The inspiration for this came from the book on Tuscan coastal cooking, Acquacotta, by Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant, 2017). The original recipe calls for clams and no fish, but I had fresh prawns and halibut on hand. I was also cooking beans and well, you know, beans. Any of our white beans will work, except...

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