Ayocote Morado beans

Attention! Please budget two days to cook these beans. They need a lot of time and care – but trust me, it’s worth it. This recipe is U.V. (Unintentionally Vegan).

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Originally from Oaxaca, the big, meaty ayocote morado was one of the first cultivated crops of the New World. Get yours from a reliably fresh source such as Rancho Gordo.

THE DAY BEFORE: Soak 1 cup beans in 1 quart water with 1 tbs kosher or sea salt, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp whole black peppercorns.

THE DAY OF, ABOUT 6-7 HOURS BEFORE YOU EAT:

neutral oil such as grapeseed
1/4 white onion, chopped
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 hot Italian-style cherry pepper, chopped, divided
2/3 medium-hot Italian style long (not bell) pepper, chopped
2 chiles de arbol, microwaved for 30 seconds, ground, divided
Greek oregano
1 1/2 tbs good tomato paste
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Saute all the onion in 1 tbs grapeseed oil till soft and starting to brown. Add 1/2 of the hot cherry pepper and all the Italian pepper and continue sauteing until cooked and aromatic. Add beans, their soaking water, plus enough extra water to cover beans by at least 2 inches. Add 1/2 the ground chiles de arbol, about 1 tsp salt, a good shake of oregano, stir well and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 4-5 hours*. Keep a kettle of hot water ready to add extra water if necessary – the tips of the beans should remain submerged, but at the same time you want the liquid to reduce and get thicker, so don’t dilute too much. During the process you will be monitoring the level of liquid, the doneness of the beans and the simmer rate (which should be more than “the occasional bubble” but should not be remotely close to boiling), so you will be spending a lot of time adjusting in the kitchen.

Toward the end, saute the rest of the cherry pepper in some oil, charring slightly if possible. Add with the tomato paste and the remainder of the ground chile de arbol. Taste for salt, correcting. Bring to a boil again and then simmer for at least another 30-45 minutes.

Taste to ensure the beans are creamy (not just starchy). Allow to sit at room temp for some time. Test again, and if starchy, bring to a boil again, with more water if necessary, and then simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Again allow to sit at room temp 30-45 minutes until perfect creaminess is attained.

Sauce should be rich, thick and brown. Serve over rice.

If reheating the next day: bring to a simmer slowly with a small splash of water. Refresh the beans with some more sauted chopped hot cherry pepper and about half of another roasted, ground chile de arbol. Repeat for every reheat. The beans will get better and better over the course of two weeks.

Note: Try to control the temptation to add extra ingredients. This is a bean with a huge personality of its own and you will want its flavor to dominate. Once you get this right, you will want more.

Serves 2.

* It can be difficult to keep the simmer going on the stove. If you can find the right temperature in your oven to keep it at a steady simmer (and this will take some checking, plus constantly opening and closing the oven door to check and occasionally add water will shift the temperature), you may get more consistent results, and in fact creamier beans – since the pot is warmed on all sides. In my oven, it works best at about 300-310F 425F and the lid half on.