Santa Maria–Style Beans with Medjool Dates

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Rancho Gordo Santa Maria Pinquito beans cooked with dates and spices, topped with fresh onion

I was gifted a box of dates over the holidays. I was appreciative, but I wasn't prepared to be overwhelmed with joy. These were the best dates I'd ever had! I quickly finished the generous box and went to the Rancho Meladuco website to order more. It turns out that Joan Smith from Rancho Meladuco is a Rancho Gordo fan. We exchanged emails and Joan was kind enough to let us share her Pinquito Bean and date dish.

After we tried out the recipe in our test kitchen, the staff wolfed these down. I was quite selfish with my portion. This is a very different and odd dish that now will be part of my repertoire in the kitchen. I think most people would consider this a side dish for a Santa Maria tri-tip but I think it was perfect as the main course and should play second fiddle to nothing!

Beans

Sauce

  1. 1 large Anaheim chile
  2. 1 pound smoked thick-cut bacon, diced
  3. 1 white onion, minced (reserve some for garnish)
  4. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1 teaspoon pure chile powder, such as Rancho Gordo New Mexican Red Chile Powder
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  8. 2 cups tomato puree
  9. 1 cup Mexican-style lager
  10. ½ cup brewed coffee
  11. 5 Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  12. Kosher salt and pepper
  13. Mexican crema for serving (optional)

Serves 6 to 8

Prepare the beans:

  1. Rinse and sort the beans. If desired, soak the beans in cold water for 4 to 8 hours. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with fresh cold water by 3 inches. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat; let boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook gently, uncovered, until the beans are tender, 45 minutes to 2 hours. Add hot water, as needed, to keep the beans covered.

Prepare the sauce:

  1. While the beans are simmering, char the Anaheim chile over a burner on your stovetop or under the broiler until completely charred. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag (or, place in a bowl and cover with a plate) and let sit for 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to remove the skin. Finely chop the chile and discard the seeds and stem.
  2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s crispy and browned, 10 to 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer one-quarter of the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Reserve for garnishing. Pour out some of the bacon fat, if desired.
  3. In the saucepan, add the minced onion and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chile powder, cumin, and mustard powder and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree, beer, coffee, dates, and diced chile. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the dates are beginning to break down, 30 to 40 minutes.

Finish the beans:

  1. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Return the beans to the pot. Stir in the sauce and the reserved cooking liquid and cook over low heat until heated through. Season with salt.
  2. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved bacon, white onion, and a spoonful of Mexican crema, if desired. Serve right away.

Recipe by Joan Smith, Rancho Meladuco Date Farm



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