Rancho Gordo Pinto Beans

May 28, 2018

As I went through my blog spring cleaning last week, I was struck by just how many posts I have on pinto beans and chicken stock. Surely, I don’t need yet another bean post, do I? Oh, yes I do. A month or so as I was searching for Santa Maria Pinquito beans for a side dish to tri-tip, I read about Rancho Gordo beans – probably on Mike Vrobel’s DadCooksDinner web site. Rancho Gordo was the only place I could find the pinquito beans so I ordered a pound; while I was at it, I ordered a pound of pinto beans and a pound of black beans. I was a bit skeptical – I mean how much better can an heirloom bean than a pound of bulk grocery store beans? Well, it turns out, a lot better.

Pinto Beans and home made chicken stock

We are planning on having tostadas this week so I whipped up a batch of pinto beans in the pressure cooker. Since I’d be adding some fat turning the pintos into refried beans, I didn’t add any to the recipe.

As I picked through the beans to remove any stones or especially wrinkly beans I was pleased to see the beans were uniform in size and very clean. After rinsing, I soaked the beans in a solution of 2 Tablespoons table salt and 3 quarts of water overnight. When I was ready to cook, I drained and rinsed them a couple of times. Then I pulled together the ingredients.


This recipe is pretty simple. You can find the whole refried bean recipe here. I just did the first half of that recipe. To summarize:

  • 1 pound beans soaked overnight
  • 1 1/2  cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano (I couldn’t find epazote)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I was generous with this I used a heaping teaspoon)
  • 1/2 white onion – root end left whole

If you use canned chicken stock or Better Than Bouillon don’t add the salt. I add very little salt to the homemade chicken stock I make with the DadCooksDinner recipe.

After measuring and what-not


I dumped the beans in the pressure cooker, added the chicken stock, water, cumin, chili powder, and salt and gave it all a good stir. I used a bit more than the 3 cups liquid the recipe calls for – about an additional 1/2 cup – because I wanted them to have plenty of broth for the refried bean stage. Then I added the onion half, garlic, oregano, and bay leaf.


My normal recipe calls for pressure cooking on high for 18 minutes, but these beans looked so fresh I cut that down to 16, knowing I could simmer a while if needed. It wasn’t needed. After letting the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes I quick-released the remaining pressure, pulled off the top, fished out the onion, bay leaf, garlic, and what was left of the oregano sprigs.


They smelled so good. Before dishing them out into 2 cup containers for freezing, I dished up a small bowl to taste while I watched the Dodgers finish off the Padres (baseball). They were delicious. After tasting, I dished them out into three 2 cup containers. I froze two and have one stashed in the refrigerator for later this week.


I’ve been happy with this method of cooking beans for a while now, but the Rancho Gordo beans added another dimension. I was a bit surprised that these were so tasty given I hadn’t added any fat. If I was going for straight pinto beans, I would have sautéd some salt pork first. By happy coincidence I discovered I didn’t need to. These beans stand up on their own.

Later this week, I’ll turn two cups of the beans into refried beans, using the second half of the recipe linked above.

I’m not an affiliate, I don’t get any renumeration from Rancho Gordo beans. That being said, I heartily recommend them. I’ll be buying beans from them in the future. In the meantime, I have a pound of  black beans and a pound of those Santa Maria Pinquito beans in my cupboard ready to go.

RATING: ★★★★★  a full 5 stars. 

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