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Friday, August 5, 2011

Pinto Beans

I used to buy canned beans until I realized how much cheaper it was to make them from scratch.  (Plus, they taste better).  Notice that I don't bother soaking my beans...there really is no need to.  Some varieties of pinto beans are harder than others and take longer to cook.  I get mine from the Mexican section of the Farmer's Market and for some reason this variety cooks up faster then the ordinary grocery store version.  Not sure what the difference is but there is unmistakeably one.  Here's how I cook 'em:

2 cups (1 lb) dry pinto beans, picked free of debris and washed well
1-2 strips of bacon (really any pork fat will work)
Water (enough to cover the beans by about 1 inch or so)
salt
black pepper

Optional:  a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of epazote, a dried chipotle pepper, half an onion.  Sometimes I add these things, sometimes I don't. 

Place cleaned beans in a large saucepan or dutch oven (I think the pan I use holds about 3 quarts).  Cover with enough water that beans are submerged by at least an inch or so.  Add bacon.  Set pan on high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary as it evaporates from cooking.  Add salt (a teaspoon or more depending on how salty you like your beans) and some black pepper halfway through the cooking process.  Beans are ready when tender and creamy in consistency.  This takes 1-2 hours depending on the beans and the altitude.

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