Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mexican-Style Pinto Beans

 Well-seasoned pinto beans ~ great side dish

These well-seasoned beans smell sooo good when they are cooking.  They are great as a side dish or incorporated into Mexican recipes.  They are the basis for Un-Refried Beans.  We use them in Taco Chip Ole (our version of taco salad), Taco Soup, in Whole Grain tortillas with cheese and hot sauce.  They are so popular at our house I usually cook 4 pounds of beans at a time in my water bath canner, in which case I use the food processor to chop the onions : )   

The method outlined below utilizes two important principles.  The first is fermentation, which according to Sally Fallon Morell in her book Nourishing Traditions, improves digestibility of the beans, which in turn reduces gastric upset. The second is brining, which according to America's Test Kitchen, tenderizes the seed coat.  Inspiration for seasoning came from Beth Hensperger's 'Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook', a book I highly recommend.

Day 1
1 lb. dried pinto beans (2 cups)
4 quarts room temperature water, 70-75 degrees F
2 Tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
2 Tbs sea salt

Day 2
8 cups hot water
2 dried New Mexican, California, or ancho chiles
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf

Place beans in a large bowl, pot, or other container.  Add water, vinegar, and salt. Soak at room temperature overnight or up to 24 hours. 

Drain beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Pull stems off of dried chiles and shake the seeds out.

Transfer beans to a large pot; add 8 cups hot water.  Pull stems off of dried chiles and shake the seeds out; discard seeds.  Smash the garlic cloves with the broad side of a chef's knife and add them, the chiles, chopped onion, and bay leaf to the pot.  Bring beans to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat, tilt the lid on the pot, and simmer until desired tenderness is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

OR cook in a slow cooker on HIGH heat for 3 to 4 1/2 hours.

Test several beans to determine doneness.  Older beans will take longer to cook, and really old beans may not soften.

Remove beans from heat and let cool in their liquid for 1 hour.

Use immediately or package for the freezer.  Drain the beans and transfer to wide-mouth pint jars , freezer containers or freezer bags.  A pound of beans yields three 2 cup packages, equivalent to 3 cans of beans.  

Thaw frozen beans in one of the following ways:
  • defrost overnight in the refrigerator
  • thaw in the microwave on the defrost setting (not jars)
  • thaw tightly closed container in a large bowl of warm water (not jars)
  • set out at room temperature for an hour, then slide beans from their container into a small pan for heating.
Delicious dish; enjoy plain, topped with cheese and hot sauce, along-
side your favorite Mexican entree, or pureed to make Un-Refried Beans.

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