Fast forward to 2015 and it seems that the old "pot of beans" on the stove or in the fridge has fallen out of fashion. Sure, there are still plenty of beans being eaten today. Not just pinto beans either! I see plenty of creative and innovative recipes on the web where beans are used in salads, soups, chili, veggie burgers, and other unique specialties.
One last thing before I get into the very easy process of cooking beans. If you're a kitchen dweller like me, do yourself a favor and go out and get a clay pot. Cooking your beans in a clay pot on the stovetop or in the oven adds an earthy quality to your beans that cannot be matched by any other method. You might be thinking to yourself that the old "crock pot" method is just as good. I'm here to tell you it's not. Clay pots such as mine shown in the photo above can be obtained pretty inexpensively these days. Sure, you can go out and spend hundreds of dollars if you wish, but I got mine for only 30 bucks at the Home Goods store in Petaluma. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions on prepping the pot before the first use. I had to soak my clay pot in water overnight before use. It's a one time process. After that you're good to go!
Today's recipe is one of those foundational recipes that will help you create a nice base for some chili, refried beans, nachos, burritos, or whatever else you dream up. This recipe uses pinto beans, but feel free to substitute your favorite bean variety. Click "Read More" for the recipe. Enjoy :)
1 16oz bag of dried pinto beans (2 cups)
1 medium onion
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Using a colander or strainer, rinse and sort through the beans to remove any small stones or other debris. Most beans are very clean these days, but be sure to rinse them well anyway.
2. Place the beans into a large pot. Add enough fresh water to cover by about 2 inches.
3. Quarter the onion and add it to the pot along with the whole bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Set the pot of beans on the stove and simmer over low heat for about 3 hours until tender.
5. Remove the bay leaf from the pot, serve and enjoy, or use the beans in your favorite recipe.
Some people prefer to soak their beans overnight before cooking. This method is perfectly fine. In my experience, I have found that soaking beans are only necessary if the beans are older or extremely dry. The pinto beans that I used to buy when my family and I lived in the mountains of north Georgia were always very dry and benefitted from a good soaking. The beans I get here at home in California are much fresher and do not require any soaking. Besides, I feel that the process of throwing out the soaking liquid and replacing it with fresh water before cooking removes a lot of flavor. Generally, a good soaking will speed up the cook time on your beans, but it is not absolutely necessary.