As January Essentials find their way to doorsteps across the country, here’s a bit of info about each of these amazing ingredients, and a few of my top ideas about what to do with each. Here’s what’s in the box:
- Stone-ground blue cornmeal from Geechie Boy Mill in Edisto Island, SC.
- Wild rice from Rancho Gordo, in Napa, CA.
- Brown Tepary beans from Rancho Gordo, in Napa, CA
- Garginelli pasta from Northern Farmhouse pasta in Roscoe, NY.
- Gnocchi from Farabella, a small producer in Abruzzo, Italy.
- Malted milk chocolate from French Broad in Asheville, NC.
The Tepary beans can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Beans" post.
The Wild Rice can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Grains" post.
The garginelli and gnocchi can be cooked according to the instructions on the package, and the blue cornmeal will vary depending on the use.
This is one of the few grains native to the Americas — and it’s far more versatile than it’s often given credit for. It takes a bit longer than regular rice to cook (closer to an hour of simmer), but it’s definitely worth it. It also holds up well when made in advance, and doesn’t require any effort while it’s cooking, so you can focus on other things. Here’s a few of my favorite uses:
1) As a simple rice side dish substitute, with salmon, chicken, tofu, or whatever strikes your fancy. It can do especially well with gamey meats and highly-seasoned flavors.
2) When made ahead (so, best as leftovers), it adds a really nice nutty, earthy element to a fried rice. I made some this week with szechuan chilis, tofu, broccoli, and celery, which went over quite well.
3) Also as a leftover, in a cold salad: just chop in some good salad veggies and add a dressing! Becomes a full meal if you add some beans.
Brown Tepary Beans
Brown Teparies from Rancho Gordo look like lentils but cook like regular dried beans. These small, hearty, and dense beans are drought-tolerant and indigenous to the American southwest.
I’ve generally made them ahead of time (see "How to Cook: Beans”) and my favorite uses so far have been:
1) I put together a hominy-tepary-turkey stew with celery, Chile powder, and pimentón that was definitely a winner.
2) They’re fantastic in a bean salad, partly b/c they provide a different texture to some other beans.]
3) Great in a quesadilla. A teary, hutilacoche quesadilla on a high-quality corn tortilla and with a nice salsa would be a thing of true beauty.
Bonus: My daughter has *loved* these in her lunches. I often send beans in, with mixed results, and she keeps asking for more of the teparies.
I stumbled across Northern Farmhouse Pasta this summer while driving back from Toronto (visiting in-laws) to New Haven. We stopped for lunch on Day Two of our drive in Roscoe, NY, and this pasta place seemed worth checking out. It totally was!
At the time, I hadn't started with Ben to Table, but once I did, I knew I was interested in carrying their pasta.
I chose the garginelli partly because it travels well, and also because I quite like this shape. Northern Farmhouse uses a blend of local, organic wheats from New York to get to its desired texture, and the garginelli shape is great at holding sauce.
With pasta like this, I usually prefer to cook it directly in the sauce. It sometimes takes a bit longer to be "done," but all the starchy goodness stays right there, and it's almost like it emulsifies together.
This gnocchi comes from Farabella, a small producer in Abruzzo committed to sustainability and truly delicious gluten-free products.
I'm usually pretty skeptical of shelf-stable gnocchi, with years of disappointment under my belt. But I'm now a believer, and I hope you'll join me on the side of the converted. This gnocchi is mostly potato-based, with a bit of rice flour. Here are a few ways I've made it:
1) Combining a colatura di alci sauce with broccoli rabe and sausage. More instructions on how I did that are here on Instagram.
2) Just tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan or pecorino (especially as a side dish)
3) As a quick way to get to your “dumplings” in a classic dish like chicken and dumplings. Just
Made by Geechie Boy Mill in Edisto Island, SC, from Sea Island Blue Corn, this is an unusual, beautiful, and delicious cornmeal. There’s a lot you can do with cornmeal. These are a few of my favorites:
1) Skillet cornbread (very simple, and you can just follow the instructions on the package). You could make it fancier by adding in some cheddar and jalapeńos.
2) Blue corn muffins (same idea as above, just different delivery mechanism).
3) As a thickener (used sparingly) in a thick, hearty stew.
4) As a breading for fried chicken or fish.
5) Instead of flour underneath a pizza dough.
Malted Milk Chocolate
This comes from craft chocolatier French Broad, in Asheville, NC. It’s chocolate. You know what to do.