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Niloufer Ichaporia King's Heirloom Bean & Pork Stew

Photo by Eric Wolfinger. Ceramic serving dish, dish towel from SHED.

In the February issue of 7x7, we pulled off a boar hunt and feast of epic proportions in Healdsburg ("The Omnivore's Delight," p. 44). Our lovely guests contributed to a beautiful potluck, and they've generously shared the recipes for some of our favorite dishes. They're proportioned for a crowd, so get the gang together for a delicious winter fête, and enjoy!

Charlie Thieriot, manager at Llano Seco Rancho, and his wife Marissa brought a luscious stew—made from the ranch’s famous heirloom beans—by their friend and culinary mentor, Niloufer Ichaporia King, author of My Bombay Kitchen. This is what she had to say of the dish, which she dubs "Berta’s Cuban Black Beans": “Folklorist Berta Montero Bascom of Havana used to bring a vast vat of these beans, expected and appreciated, to any occasion where food was shared. Below is Berta’s family recipe recounted as we cooked them together in her Berkeley kitchen. This is a dish you can and perhaps should make days ahead. Quantities are elastic, and you can halve or expand this recipe without running into trouble.”

Heirloom bean and pork stew

Serves 15 to 20

2 pounds Llano Seco Black Turtle beans

3 ham hocks (optional)

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, pounded

2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled

2 bay leaves

1⁄4 cup olive oil

red wine or sherry vinegar

salt to taste

1.    Soak beans for several hours or overnight.
2.    Discard soaking water and put in a large pot covered with cold water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.
3.    Cook with or without ham hocks for 1 1⁄2 to 2 hours. When beans are tender but not mushy, remove the ham hocks and reserve them.
4.    Make a sofrito from onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves: Sauté onion, garlic, and green pepper in olive oil on medium heat in a frying pan until soft. Add the cumin, oregano, and bay leaves, and sauté another minute or 2.
5.    Add the sofrito to the beans.
6.    Deglaze the frying pan with red wine or sherry vinegar and add that to the beans as well. (If you have any still drinkable bottle ends of red wine, here’s a great place for them.)
7.    Add salt to taste, being conservative, as the cooking liquid will reduce.
8.    Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring from time to time, until the flavors are combined, about 1 ½ hours. This can be done on top of the stove or in the oven at about 300 degrees. Add reserved ham hocks, cut up, for the last half hour.
9.    After the beans have rested but are still warm, adjust the salt again.

10. Serve as-is or garnished with julienned ham and sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and whites.