Probably our favorite make do dish is pinto beans, we call them soup beans. They’re cheap-sometimes you can find a bag for less than a dollar. Pintos are also easy to cook-especially if you throw them in a crock pot and forget about them.
Granny taught me the first step to cooking pinto beans is too look them-which just means to look through the beans and see if there are any bad one-or any little rocks like the ones in my hand above. Sometimes I find stuff when I look the beans-other times I don’t find anything but beans.
Next-rinse the beans off a few times.
The beans need to be soaked before you cook them. The easiest way to do it-is too put them in a bowl, cover with water and let them sit overnight-and that’s the method I use. You can see in the photo above-after a night of soaking the beans plump up. (drain water before cooking)
The other method of soaking is good for those days when you’re in a rush or you forgot to soak the beans the day before. Place the ‘looked’ beans in a pot and cover with water-bring the water to a boil and let boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat-put lid on-and let the beans sit for an hour. Drain beans before cooking.
Once your beans have been soaked-it’s time to cook them. A few different options:
- Put beans in a large stock pot and cover with water-cook on top of stove. This is the method The Deer Hunter likes-he’s anti-crock pot. The beans cook up great-but you have to keep an eye on the amount of water in the pot and make sure it doesn’t cook out. The beans take several hours to cook.
- Put beans in a crock pot and cover with water. Turn the crock pot on low and forget about it. If you put the beans on early in the morning-by supper they’ll be done perfectly.
- My Uncle Woodrow made the best pot of Pinto Beans ever!! He cooked his in a big pot on his wood stove. I’m not sure if it was him-or the wood stove-but no one could cook pintos like Uncle Woodrow.
- You can cook pinto beans in a pressure cooker too-they get done fast. But I think they taste better by using the other methods. Or maybe The Deer Hunter just hasn’t perfected his pressure cooking beans process.
After you decide which method to use-you need to decide how to season the beans. I like to use a chunk of ham. During the year if we have a ham-I save every little piece that isn’t eaten and freeze them. Then when I need a piece for a pot of beans I have it. Some folks add a piece or two of fatback/streaked meat. Others add a little cooking oil. Salt and pepper to taste-keeping in mind the salt content of the meat-if you use meat.
Once the beans are done-add a cake of cornbread, some stewed potatoes, an onion, a jar of applesauce and that’s supper for us.
If you cook a bag of beans-it makes a lot of beans. I usually cook the whole bag-we eat them for at least 2 nights-and I freeze the rest for one of those busy days when I don’t have time to cook. I can warm up the frozen beans and add the rest of our favorites pretty quickly.
Other times-I’ll freeze the leftover beans in smaller quantities-so The Deer Hunter can add them to his Deer Chili.
Anyway you look at it-pinto beans is a cheap and tasty meal. Hope you’ll leave me a comment with your thoughts or tips on pinto beans.
p.s Everyone has their favorite way to eat pinto beans-you can see I like mine mixed up with crumbled cornbread. The strangest way I ever seen someone eat theirs-they mixed mayonnaise with their pinto beans.