Bigger is better. And I’m obsessed with these enormous forkable beans.
I’m referring to heirloom Royal Corona, a fat bean that is Italy’s answer to the Spanish and Greek gigante bean and can certainly be treated in the same way. Rancho Gordo’s founder Steve Sando says the Royal Corona has mesoamerican roots, is bred in Italy but grown in Poland. Even the Italians import them from Poland where growing conditions are the best which is why Sando sources his creamy coronas for Rancho Gordo from Poland as well.
If you’re curious about the bean-crazed Steve Sando, you can learn more about him here in the New Yorker.
As far as where I get my supply of Royal Corona’s, I make my way over to Jim Dixon’s highly curated Real Good Food shop here in Portland for a couple of reasons:
- The shop is wonderfully curated and I can pick up a quality bottle of olive oil and fun natty wine at the same time.
- RGF carries a very curated selection of legumes so you can be sure there’s high turnover, therefore reducing the chances of ending up with a bag of old beans that never reach the creamy stage when cooking them.
So, if you’re in Portland, pop in to Real Good Food on the east side (and get some colorful tinned fishies while you’re at it). Otherwise, you can find these beans at other specialty grocery stores or on Rancho Gordo’s website.
If you’ve never prepared dried beans before, the Royal Corona is an excellent first choice. While I certainly use my fair share of BPA-free canned and carton beans, there’s something special about cooking them yourself. You get something different in the end that can truly be the star of your dish.
Here I’m sharing 2 simple preparations that have landed in my heavy rotation as of late. I should also mention that I used these cooked fatty legumes in a harissa pork shoulder recipe from Alison Roman’s new cookbook, Nothing Fancy and they came out beautifully slurpable in the harissa, tomato paste and roasty pork fat juices. Alas, I didn’t manage to get a photo of that.
1: Garlicky Brothy Beans
In truth, you could use any variety of white bean, runner or even garbanzo here but the plump Royal Corona is my fave. There’s something special that happens with the creamy insides of the bean as is soaks in the garlicky broth. It almost tastes smokey.
This is my go-to preparation method, no matter how I plan to use the beans. Cooking a full bag results in at least 6 services so… yay leftovers.
EDIT: some of you have asked if you could do these in an Instant Pot. I say go for it! Add some dried kombu to boost the digestibility.
- 1 lb bag (16 oz) of Rancho Gordo’s Royal Corona beans
- A few glugs of olive oil
- Sea salt
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh herbs (optional)
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- 2 medium carrots, organic, unpeeled and cut in 3-4 inch pieces
- 2 sticks of celery with leaves if possible, cut into 3-4 inch pieces
- ½ medium yellow onion, skin removed
- 4-5 large cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed
- A leftover parmesan rind (optional but worth it)
- Optional: soak the beans 4-6 hours and rinse. This may help them cook more evenly but it’s totally optional.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and add the sage leaves. Let them sizzle a minute or two until fragrant.
- Rinse the soaked (or unsoaked) beans and add to the pot along with all the aromatics, including the parmesan rind if using. Add another glug of olive oil. NO salt yet.
- Cover with water, with about 4 inches of water above the beans.
- Bring to a full boil for about 15 minutes,
- Reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours, uncovered, adding more water as needed.
- After about an hour and a half, check the beans for doneness.*
- Once the beans are done, add salt and fresh cracked pepper to the beans and broth to taste.
- Ladle into a bowl, top with a bunch of fresh cracked pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon and chopped herbs. Slurp away.
- You can store the beans in their brothy glory in the fridge for a few days.
* Here’s the trick to test doneness, fish out a bean and blow on it. If the skin starts to peel back, give it a taste. Starchy? Keep going. Creamy? Test a few more beans to see if the creamyness is consistent. If you’re satisfied, turn off the heat. I tend to like mine extra creamy so I’ll often go another 20-30 min but that’s my preference. Choose your own adventure.
Note- you can attempt to strain out the aromatics but I frankly don’t find the effort worth it. The one thing I will fish out is the parmesan rind.
2: Herby Vinegary Royal Coronas
When I’m wanting to switch it up but not put in much effort, I’ll take some of the beans from my brothy preparation and transform them into a bright, vinegary salad situation. For this, it’s critical that you’re beans are not starchy. At all.
- A few cups of cooked room temperature or chilled Royal Corona beans
- A handful of fresh herbs of your choosing, chopped. I like dill and flatleaf parsley.
- Flakey sea salt. I use the flaky salt from Jacobsen Salt Co.
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Olive Oil
- AgroDolce vinegar. Katz makes a great one, which Real Good Food also carries.
- Pickled red onion or shallots to taste
- Fresh lemon juice
- Strain the beans out of their cooking liquid but no need to rinse (and keep that brothy goodness!)
- Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and adjust the vinegar and lemon juice to taste.
- Add additional flakey salt and pepper to taste.
Note – Make a big batch and keep in the fridge for lunches throughout the week. Serve on a bed of tender greens and top with sesame seeds
You may have noticed this is the first post on the blog in…gasp…3 years! Well, a lot of life has happened. Transitions. Loss. Reflection. Hustle. Grind. It feels good to be back. 🙂
Disclaimer: believe it or not, this post does NOT contain any affiliate links so there’s no monetary benefit to me if you explore the goods I’ve shared. Though wouldn’t that be nice?