Cooking Pinto Beans, Frijoles de la Olla.
Back in Mexico, when we wanted beans, one of us kids would lug an empty stock pot to the tortilleria and pick up freshly made tortillas and frijoles de la olla. Lucky for us, the owner of the store was in love with our aunt, and he would give us a warm tortilla to “butter us up”. Once he gave my cousin a lollipop and that’s when the gloves came off. We all fought to visit our future tío. (Tío = uncle) I think at first we loved him more than my aunt did. He would come over for dinner in his freshly pressed shirt, his best sombrero, and shined boots. An excuse would be made to leave them alone, and eventually, he won her heart. They married after many lollipops, many tortillas, and many, many pots of beans.
Cooking pinto beans is easy. I mean EASY! It involves only 3 ingredients – water, beans, and salt. However, it does take time. Hours and hours, in fact. You can’t rush the magical bean. This isn’t “Jack and the beanstalk.” This is “Juan, lets the beans talk”. That’s why making this in the slow cooker is ideal. Set the slow cooker: 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. You can make ‘em while you sleep. Although, making them on the stove top is faster.
Sorting beans.. UGH! I have always hated this part, but it’s essential. Also rinse and repeat, or they will taste like mud. Once in college, I was lazy and “accidentally” forgot about this. Later on, I found a rock in my dish. Not a fun biting experience, let me tell you! However, the family dentist loved it.
Next is the soaking. Very important! The beans absorb the water, making them bigger. I have skipped this part too. (I was a lazy college student). Sadly, you will end up with small beans, and let’s all be honest here. Size DOES matter. See soaked beans below.
Best method: Soak for 6 hours or overnight.
Quick soaking method: Add dried beans and 2 inches of water above the beans. Bring to a boil. Turn heat off and soak for one hour. Then continue to the cooking instructions.
Don’t be stingy with the water. Cooking pinto beans on the stove involves a lot of water. Sadly, I’ve burned beans more times than I can count. Again, the college days… (Beans 101)
Here’s a tip: Midway through the cooking process whether in the slow cooker or on the stove, add 1 cup of water.
Tell me how easy was that?! You’ll be cooking your pinto beans like a pro in no time. You’ll be able to enter the NBA – “National Beans Association”. Lol. Enjoy!
- 1 lb pinto beans
- 2 tablespoons salt
- Sort the beans, removing all the rocks and other debris.
- Rinse the beans thoroughly.
- Overnight Soaking Method: Cover the beans with water, at least a few inches above the beans. Overnight is best, or 6 hours.
- OR Quick Soaking Method: Add pinto beans to a stock pot and cover with water 4 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat. Let sit for 1 hour.
- Stovetop Cooking Method: In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover 4 inches above the beans, and add salt.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cover and reduce heat to low.
- You should barely see the water moving when boiling.
- Cook for 1 hour.
- Taste for salt.
- Add salt if needed.
- Then add 1 cup of water.
- Return to a gentle boil.
- Let simmer for 1 more hour.
- Slow Cooker Method: Transfer the soaked beans to the slow cooker, add enough water to cover 4 inches above the beans, and add salt. Set the slow cooker: 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.