Tepary Bean and Fennel Ragout
½ cup white tepary, Anasazi, or Rio Zape beans, sorted carefully for debris and rinsed
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, feathery tops reserved
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1-2 large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided
- Brine the beans: Dissolve 1 ½ tablespoons salt in 2 quarts of cold water. Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Alternatively, you can bring the beans, salt and water to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour. In either case, drain the beans and rinse well.
- Cook the beans: Add the beans to a medium size pot and add enough water or a mixture of water and stock (vegetable or chicken). The liquid level should be 2 inches above the beans. Bring the beans to a slow boil for ten minutes, Reduce the heat so that the beans are just simmering. Cook an additional 45-60 minutes until the beans are al dente. Add more liquid as needed.
- Halve fennel lengthwise, then thinly slice lengthwise, discarding core. In a medium saucepan, sauté fennel with 1 tbsp. oil over medium heat until edges brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl; chill until used.
- Add remaining 1 tbsp. oil, the carrot, and onion to pan; saute until starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add cooked beans and their liquid, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding a little more water if beans start to look dry. Stir in salt, 2 tsp. thyme, and the fennel slices; return to a simmer and cook about 10 more minutes.
- Chop enough fennel fronds to make 1 tbsp. and stir into beans with remaining 1/2 tsp. thyme. Place in serving dishes. To accent your beans, arrange additional fennel fronds on top of the beans before serving.