Tres Frijoles

Adapted by StarChefs.com
May 2016
Yield: 60 servings
"At Californios, you may encounter obscure ingredients or complex technique, but Chef Val Cantu doesn’t want you to worry about all that. Mostly, he likes to keeps it simple. Five nights a week, 26 guests don’t ask questions (ideally, they don’t even ’gram). They just enjoy the experience. Menus aren’t handed out until after dinner, and one dish has consistently struck a chord. “Tres Frijoles represents Mexican cuisine in a new way while still valuing tradition. We wanted to create the most elegant and delicious bean dish we could,” says Cantu. “We ask, ‘How can we make something the most delicious?’ And then we reverse engineer the textures and presentation to match that intention. Most dishes are on the menu for about a month, at which point we try and create a dish that is better than the previous. Tres Frijoles quickly became a staple because we haven’t been able to think of anything more delicious. In a lot of ways, it’s our ‘Oysters and Pearls.’ It’s kind of strange to become known for a very simple dish of beans, but it has become a perfect representation of what we do. My philosophy: there shouldn’t be any component of a dish you wouldn’t eat a bowl of.” -Val Cantu

INGREDIENTS:

Cranberry Beans
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon red peppercorns
1 cup cranberry beans
1¼ gallons filtered water
2 jalapeños, slits cut lengthwise down pepper
2 shallots, peeled and halved
Salt
Royal Corona Beans Potage
8 ounces Royal Corona beans
2 sweet onions, peeled and halved
5 Serrano chiles, slit lengthwise
House-fermented crème fraîche
Salt
Moro Bean Liquor
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup moro beans
1 gallon filtered water
3 shallots, peeled and halved
2 jalapeños, slit lengthwise
Salt from San Francisco Bay salt beds
Pickled Pearl Onions
3 cups filtered water
2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup agave syrup
Salt
Pearl onions, blanched, peeled, and petaled
Shallot Relish
Vegetable oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled
6 pounds shallots, peeled
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt
To Assemble and Serve
lemons, quartered
San Francisco bay salt
Finely chopped chives
Northern Divine caviar

METHOD:

For the Cranberry Beans

Make a sachet containing fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and red peppercorns. In a saucepot, combine remaining ingredients and add sachet. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until beans are tender. Season with salt. Chill and store beans in liquid; discard sachet, jalapeños, and shallots.

For the Royal Corona Beans Potage

In a large saucepot, combine beans, onions, and chiles. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until beans are tender. Drain beans, reserving liquid. Discard onions and peppers. In a blender, purée beans in batches, adding liquid as necessary. Scrape into a bowl and season with crème fraîche and salt. Transfer to a siphon, charge twice, and keep warm.  

For the Moro Bean Liquor

Make a sachet containing fennel seeds, red peppercorns, and cumin seeds. In a saucepot, combine remaining ingredients and add sachet. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until beans are tender and liquid is flavorful. Strain, setting aside beans for another purpose. Season liquid with salt and keep warm. 

For the Pickled Pearl Onions

In a saucepot, make a brine with water, vinegar, and agave, seasoning with salt while hot. Place onion petals in a nonreactive container. Pour hot brine over onions and let stand until cool. Store onions in pickling liquid.

For the Shallot Relish

In a large sauté pan over low flame, heat oil and add garlic and shallots, cooking slowly until caramelized. When almost fully caramelized, add remaining ingredients and season with salt. Keep warm.

To Assemble and Serve

In a sauté pan, warm Cranberry Beans in their liquid. Place a few Pickled Pearl Onion petals in a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon Shallot Relish, 5 Cranberry Beans, and cover with 1 teaspoon of Moro Bean Liquor. Squeeze lemon over dish. Cover by discharging siphon of Royal Corona Beans Potage into the bowl. Finish with salt, chives, and caviar.