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.
Process of Cooking Pinto Beans, Frijoles de la Olla
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”.
Sorting Beans is a must.
UGH! I have always hated this part, but it is 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)
Canned pinto beans
I can almost hear my mother gasp reading the words “canned pinto beans.” lol. It is sacrilegious to use canned pinto beans in Mexican households.
That said, I’m a busy mom, and I love cooking shortcuts.
• Here’s what I suggest: use organic canned pinto beans. They taste different and better than the others.
Drain and reheat the beans with spices like cumin and oregano to remove the canned flavor. Use as normal.
Slow Cooker Pinto Beans
- Follow the instructions of the recipe up to step 5.
- 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.
Instant Pot Pinto Beans:
I obviously make a lot of beans. When I bought my instant pot, I thought, let’s give this a try.
- Pluses: The beans are not soaked. Ready in no time, but there’s a problem.
- Minuses: They come out a little mushy and not very whole.
Not sure if I would put them in a soup. If you try them and make a soup out of them, please let me know.
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Other Things to Add when cooking Frijoles de la Olla :
- Some people will add other spices like cumin, oregano, and chicken bouillon.
- Garlic and onion.
- I have also seen people add bacon.
Any or all of these additions would be great. They would add more flavor to this favorite Mexican side dish.
I am giving people the most basic recipe. Adjust as you see fit.
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!
Cooking Pinto Beans (Frijoles de la Olla)
- 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.
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Recipes using Pinto Beans:
A California Burrito is a real San Diego treat. Grilled carne asada with french fries and all the fixings wrapped up inside a large flour tortilla. It is incredibly tasty and absolutely delicious.
Northern Style Bean Tamales (Tamales de Frijol Norteños) are perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. Delicious, savory, and so yummy!
Steak Huevos Rancheros is the perfect dish to make for Sunday brunch. So tasty and so delicious. With a runny egg on top, nothing could be more satisfying.