Every Day Beans
Cooking dried beans is like a super safe investment. Sure they take more time to cook, but don’t let that scare you because your patience will be rewarded. Dried beans are little sponges that soak up the liquid they have been cooked in. Sometimes a can of beans is the perfect choice to get dinner on the table fast. You can add things to put on them, but they have already been cooked in water so they’re not going to absorb too much flavor. Cooking dried beans is a different story entirely. They soak up the flavors you introduce during cooking and results in loads of flavor.
This is my go-to basic recipe for a pot of beans, but the variation possibilities are pretty much endless. You could use a different bean-like Anasazi or black. You could skip the meat, or add something else like ground sausage or diced chicken. You could add a splash of wine, a spoon of tomato paste, a splash of maple syrup, or a can of coconut milk. You could add other aromatic vegetables like carrot, celery, peppers. You could switch up the spices depending on what you have or what sounds good to you at the time. The past few years I have had a hankering to add lots of black pepper and a pinch of ground lavender to beans so that’s exactly what I’ve done. But this recipe hits the spot for all the ways you can eat them—on their own, with a fried egg on top, with rice, with tacos or paired with roasted veggies or chicken.
Beans have more cooking myths attached to them than just about anything. To soak or not to soak, to salt at the beginning or end, to cover or not to cover. After cooking beans in a variety of home and restaurant settings for more years than I can count, this is my favorite way to cook them for maximum flavor.
2 c. dried pinto beans
6 c. water or broth of your choice
¼ lb. bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 T. chile powder or 2-3 dried chiles
2 t. paprika
1 T. Stokli High Desert Herbs (a blend of marjoram, thyme, sage, lavender, mild red chile, rosemary)
2 t. salt
Method: Rinse beans and look through for any small pebbles or debris. Place beans in a large pot with water or broth. Bring pot to a boil and turn off heat. Let sit for one hour. Don’t drain them, just let them hang out while you’re doing the next step.
In another large pot over medium heat add the bacon. Stir every few minutes and cook until the bacon is brown and the majority of the fat has rendered into the pan.
Add the onion, garlic, chile powder or dried chiles, paprika, high desert herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for around 10 minutes or until the onions start to wilt.
Add the beans and soaking water to the pot with the onion mixture. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low. Simmer the beans for 2-3 hours, or until they are soft enough and taste wonderful to you. Adjust seasoning as needed.