Beans

 

Beans

There’s a myth out regarding beans and salt — specifically, that you should never salt your beans before cooking because the salt keeps them from cooking through. That’s just not true. You can add salt to your bean pot at the beginning of cooking, and your beans will be better seasoned for it. If you’ve ever cooked beans for hours without them softening, it’s probably because you’re using old beans, or you’ve got hard (mineral-rich) water, or there’s an acidic ingredient in the pot, which can slow down cooking. Using distilled water solves the hard water problem. (And soaking your beans in salt water before cooking not only adds flavor, it can also help them cook more quickly.) Don’t stop at salt and black pepper. Spices like cumin, cinnamon, coriander, ground chiles and allspice add depth and complexity to your bean pot and are traditional additions in many cultures. To give spices a richer character, toast them in the pot for a few minutes until you can smell them, then add beans and liquid.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author David Tanis

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pinto beans
  • 1 small onion halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ pound slab bacon
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Instructions

  • Pick over the beans for small rocks or debris. Rinse well, then cover with cold water and soak for 6 hours or overnight.
  • Transfer beans to a soup pot and add water to cover by 1 inch. Add onion, bay leaf and bacon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a bare simmer, partly cover pot with lid, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in salt, paprika and cayenne, then continue simmering until beans are soft and creamy and the broth is well seasoned and lightly thickened, about 1 hour more. Remove bacon and chop roughly, then return to pot. (Dish may be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)

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