I’ve been eager to get to work with some of the beans I picked up at the Rancho Gordo booth in San Francisco, and I finally got my chance this week. I decided to start with the ones I was most curious about: the Christmas limas, which the packaging claims taste of chestnuts. Plus they’re all kinds of pretty.
I picked a recipe out of my newly acquired copy of Heirloom Beans, for Christmas limas with cabbage and pork chops. I did my new favorite brine soak, but otherwise followed the recipe fairly closely. The beans cook in an aromatic broth of bacon, garlic, bay and ancho chile, and Savoy cabbage is wilted in with them at the last moment. The pork chops are very straightforwardly seared, then finished in the oven (we thought about hauling out the grill but ran out of time that day).
The final product was tasty. A touch smokey and spicy, with a nice depth of flavor. I can’t say I picked up on the chestnut thing with the beans, and their heavily starchy texture got a little tiresome when I ate a bowlful for lunch later in the week, but they did go wonderfully with the pork. I have half a pound of the beans left, which I will happily use for something, but I’m not sure I’ll buy this variety again.
We did make the suggested relish to go with this, just a bowl of finely diced Asian pear with lemon juice and fresh chives, and it was interesting. I thought it tasted like apples chopped on an onion-tainted cutting board, but Jon quite liked it and ate it all.
Carneros Inn Christmas Limas with Pork Chops and Cabbage
Adapted from Heirloom Beans by Steve Sando
- 1/2 pound Christmas lima beans
- 3 slices thick bacon, diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small carrot, small dice
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 ancho chile, seeded and torn up
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 head Savoy cabbage, shredded
- 1 asian pear, finely diced
- 1 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
- 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2-4 bone-in pork chops
Soak the beans overnight or at least six hours ahead of time in salted water. Drain and rinse before cooking.
Fry the chopped bacon in a soup pot. Add the olive oil, carrot and onion and saute until softened, then add the garlic, chile, bay and the beans, and add water to top the ingredients by an inch or so. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, partially cover and let cook about an hour. When the beans are done, add salt and pepper to taste, and add the shredded cabbage to the pot. Cook until the cabbage is just wilted.
To make the relish, combine the diced pear with chives and lemon juice. That’s it!
Preheat the oven to 400°. Salt and pepper the pork chops. Sear them in a teaspoon of olive oil in a heavy iron skillet, 3 minutes a side. Put in the oven and cook just a few more minutes, until the thickest part of the chops have reached 140°. Serve with the beans and relish.