I have just recently discovered using a mirepoix when cooking beans. Where have I been?? It just totally toook things to a different level. Yes - that's right, folks. I have reached an all new level of beans - I know, it's wild and crazy around here! Well, back to the mirepoix. A mirepoix is really a very simple thing: it's carrots, celery, and onion used to add flavor and aroma to soups, stews, stocks, and beans, of course. A mirepoix is a fundamental flavor base in traditional french cuisine. And now it's going to be a fundamental in my kitchen, because it's awesome! I sauteed my veggies in olive oil, but you could also do butter or some other type of fat. I intended to add a bay leaf, as Alice Waters recommends, but I forgot it. I'll definitely add it next time, though. Ms. Waters also suggests using thyme in a mirepoix, or you could add some garlic (as I did). Depending on what you're cooking up, a classic mirepoix is an excellent jumping off point for any direction you want to take things. And it's surprising how much flavor just that simple little trio will add to things. I couldn't believe the difference it made.
In other bean news, I just received my first shipment of Rancho Gordo beans! I'd heard about them through various sites and blogs, and then I visited their website and fell in love! The company has a beautiful story behind it - the guy who started it wanted to preserve foods indigenous to The America's, and his passion led to Rancho Gordo. He grows heirloom beans in Napa Valley and works directly with Mexican farmers to produce the most amazing variety of beans. I purchased five different kinds, as well as some New Mexican red chili powder. I have a white bean stew I've wanted to make that's been waiting in the wings, so I think the runner beans will be up first!