Toss Your Baked Beans Recipes and Try Santa Maria-Style Beans Instead

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Toss Your Baked Beans Recipes and Try Santa Maria-Style Beans Instead

June 7, 2023
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Toss Your Baked Beans Recipes and Try Santa Maria-Style Beans Instead

Santa Maria Style beans put your basic baked beans recipes to shame.

What’s the big deal about beans?

Dried beans are just….dried beans, right? Wrong. Not all dried beans are created equally.

Rancho Gordo‘s heirloom beans are the darling of the culinary world. These colorful, flavorful legumes are beloved by both in-the-know home chefs and celebrity chefs worldwide. 

Rancho Gordo sign Napa Valley 2023 Photography By Hilary Rance for CA GROWN

If you’ve never heard of Rancho Gordo, you’re probably reading this with a touch of incredulity – thinking “Really, beans?” Yes beans, really! Rancho Gordo beans are a regular feature at Michelin-star restaurants like the French Laundry and have been showcased in Oprah’s O magazine.

These beans are nothing like the haggard bag of pinto beans shoved to the back of a grocery store shelf. Rancho Gordo’s heirloom beans are tender, creamy and bursting with flavor.

What are pinquito beans?

Pinquito beans from Rancho Gordo

Pinquito beans are native to the Santa Maria Valley and grow exclusively on the Central Coast. They are similar to pinto beans, but they’re smaller and hold their shape better than their more commonplace cousins. You can use pinquito beans in any recipe that calls for dried pinto beans, but our favorite way to enjoy this heirloom crop is Santa Maria-style. This dish is typically served with – you guessed it – Santa Maria-style tri tip, but has enough star power to stand alone as a plant based main dish.

NEED HELP FINDING PINQUITO BEANS? ORDER A BAG FROM RANCHO GORDO!

What is Santa Maria-Style tri tip?

Santa Maria Style tri tip paired with red wine

Santa Maria-Style Tri Tip is an iconic California recipe that rose to popularity in the 1950s. The triangular bottom cut sirloin was typically ground, until a one-armed butcher (you just can’t make this up) decided to try cooking it over an open flame.

This style of cooking is a nod to California’s Mission culture. When Spanish cowboys, or vaqueros were brought in to tend to the Mission’s herd, they shared their technique for open flame cooking with the local ranchers.

Santa Maria-Style Tri Tip is traditionally served with pinquito beans and salsa (a glass of California red wine is never a bad idea either).

Get the Recipe for Santa Maria-Style tri tip from our friends at California Wines!

How are Santa Maria-Style Beans different from baked beans?

Let’s start with the obvious answer – Santa Maria-Style beans aren’t baked. This recipe simmers for a few hours on your stovetop (although traditional versions were cooked over an open flame).

One of the most important differences between baked beans and Santa Maria-Style beans is the flavor or the beans themselves. Most baked beans recipes, or even canned baked beans for that matter, are relatively heavy-handed with the pork. Some are cooked with a ham hock, others are loaded with bacon. Pinto beans, which are traditionally used in baked beans recipes, are often overwhelmed by this. Pinquito beans, however, have a more distinctive taste and a meatier, firmer texture that is enhanced – but not overwhelmed – by stronger flavors.

Let’s make Santa Maria-Style Beans!

Santa Maria-Style Beans with sour cream and garnishes

Santa Maria-Style Beans with Medjool Dates from Rancho Gordo

Joan Smith, Rancho Meladuco Date Farm
Santa Maria-Style Beans put your basic baked bean recipe to shame. This dish is typically served with – you guessed it – Santa Maria-style tri tip, but has enough star power to stand alone as a plant based main dish.
4.37 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Course dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Spanish
Servings 6
Calories 711 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Beans

  • 1 pound uncooked Rancho Gordo Santa Maria Pinquito beans
  • 1 onion halved
  • 5 large garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Sauce

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

Instructions
 

Prepare the beans:

  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
    Cooking bacon over a stover top for Santa maria style beans - they're better than your baked beans recipes.
  • 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:

  • 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.
    Stirring Santa Maria-style beans
  • 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.
    Santa Maria-Style Beans with sour cream and garnishes

Video

Notes

If you can’t get your hands on Rancho Gordo’s pinquito beans, you can sub pinto beans in a pinch – but we definitely think you need to taste the Rancho Gordo difference. 

Nutrition

Calories: 711kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 29gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 576mgPotassium: 1832mgFiber: 16gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 610IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 142mgIron: 6mg
Keyword pinquito beans, rancho gordo, Santa Maria
Tried this recipe?Mention @cagrownofficial or tag #CAGROWN!

Love this recipe? Here are a few more of our favorite recipes using beans:

beans marbella

Beans Marbella

Fans of Chicken Marbella are sure to love this vegetarian version starring Rancho Gordo’s Marcella Beans.

Illyanna Maisonet Spring Bean Salad

Spring Bean Salad

Celebrate seasonal produce with this Spring Bean Salad. The combination of pinto beans, asparagus and cucumber is unexpected but incredibly delicious!

Puerto Rican Baked Beans from Illyanna Maisonet

Puerto Rican Baked Beans

Illyanna gives baked beans some Puerto Rican pizzazz. You’ll never buy canned baked beans again.

Still hungry for more? Let’s look beyond the basic bean recipes!

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