It’s no secret that we love our legumes here at Milk Street, so we were thrilled when Rancho Gordo offered us the exclusive opportunity to carry the Raquel bean, an heirloom variety from the Southwest that you can't buy anywhere else. The Raquel's striking white and brown Palomino coloring looks similar to Maine’s famous Steuben Yellow-Eye beans, and it's especially thin-skinned and has enough starch content that when rehydrated, the beans are soft and tender; we also like their pleasantly nutty and earthy flavor. To ensure the best flavor and texture, we strongly suggest soaking the beans overnight in 8 cups of water seasoned with 2 tablespoons kosher salt, which will help tenderize the skins and ensure the creamiest texture.
For beans this good, we like to let their flavor shine loud and clear, unencumbered by anything too strong. Try braising them slowly on the stovetop or in a 275°F oven in 6 cups of water seasoned with 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, a few garlic cloves, ½ an onion and a pair of bay leaves. To serve, liberally drizzle the cooked beans with extra-virgin olive oil and dust with coarse salt. You can also add a few diced tomatoes, avocado, chopped scallions and a pile of warm, fresh tortillas. Or mash the beans with a fork and smear into quesadillas with creamy Oaxacan or mozzarella cheese—we like to add bacon to ours. The Raquel beans are a terrific accompaniment to roasted meats or added to your favorite bean soups and stews.