Cheap & Delicious Eats: Pinto Beans (yes, really)

Yesterday I found two big bags of pinto beans on sale for two bucks each. Not organic, which I would rather, but at that price - I won't complain. Here is how you make those cheap old pintos taste like a gourmet meal.

Don't be intimidated by the idea of preparing dry beans, it's so easy my seven year old can do it. It takes very little time, most of the time the beans are doing their own thing while you go about your business. The way I am going to show you, the beans come out so tender, creamy and mild that they are good all by themselves with a pat of real butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. I've never liked plain beans but after I learned to do it this way, I was really surprised how enjoyable they can be. I cook beans plain to store in the freezer, it makes chili or ham & bean soup or just simple beans & rice, a quick and easy meal to whip up on a busy night. The kids also like them as finger food to snack on during the day. Sort of like edamame, only cheaper, and much more digestable!

  • place beans in a large bowl, sort out any broken bits or pebbles. Rinse beans & add salted water to cover the beans by about an inch. (two teaspoons of water for each quart of water) Cover the bowl. Ignore them til the next day.
  • in the morning, pour off the water & refill the bowl. Repeat in the evening, this time don't add any more water but leave the wet beans in the covered bowl.
  • in the morning, place the beans in a colander and rinse them well. By this time they should be sprouting; you will see a little tail emerging if you look closely. Don't worry if the soak water doesn't smell that great, it will all get washed away in the final rinse.
place the beans in the cooking vessel. I prefer a dutch oven, or crock pot. Add water to just cover the beans. Heat on high til it just begins to simmer then reduce to the lowest heat. Because of the long soaking & sprouting, they will not take as long to cook. Do not stir them while they cook, if you want them to remain whole. Cooking time will vary but roughly an hour and a half should do the trick - test & remove from the heat as soon as the beans are tender.

I drain the cooked beans in a colander & let them cool then divide into portions and freeze.

Use this same technique on any other dry bean for the same creamy, tender results.

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