Thursday, January 28, 2021

Pinto Beans "With a Twist"!

How do you like your Pinto Beans? The traditional way, or with something extra? We grew up in West Virginia and later lived in South Louisiana "Cajun Country" for a number of years, so our Pinto Beans have somewhat deviated from the norm. Directions and photos are included for traditional Pinto Beans, and also for the family's favorite variations.  

First, clean the beans. I pour the beans onto a large rimmed baking sheet and look them over carefully, removing any dirt and/or rocks that may be with the beans. I also remove any beans that look a little strange.

Rinse well, at least 3 times.

The Soak
There are a couple methods of soaking: Cold Soak, or Boil and Soak.
For the Cold Soak, cover the beans with water a couple inches above beans, and let set for several hours at room temperature. Some soak them for 3-4 hours, and some soak for 6-8. Some even soak overnight. If you can't cook them after they are soaked, put them in the refrigerator. If you soak too long at room temperature, they may sprout or sour!

For the Boil and Soak, cover the beans with water a couple of inches above beans, and bring to a complete boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let set for 1 hour.

The Second Rinse
After the pinto beans have soaked, drain and rinse 2 times.

Cooking the Pinto Beans
Put the Pinto Beans in a large pot and cover with water about 2 inches above the beans. At this point, we add 2 slices of bacon.

Some add butter instead of the bacon, and sometimes we add a ham bone.

Bring to a boil. Continue to cook at a gentle boil for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste and cook 1 more hour. Add additional water as needed during the cooking time, and continue to stir occasionally. 

The amount of salt varies. I usually start with a teaspoon of salt for 2 lbs. of Pinto Beans, do a "taste test", and add more as needed. You can add more salt, but you can't take it out!

When we add smoked sausage, we don't add as much salt. The smoked sausage (1/2 lb.) is halved and cut in pieces about 1/2 inch thick and added to the Pinto Beans during the last hour of cooking time. 

Now comes the "twist"! We quickly learned that in Louisiana they eat rice with many foods. Red Beans and Rice inspired us to eat rice with the Pinto Beans. Sometimes we cook long grain white rice, and sometimes I cook Minute Rice if I'm in a rush. I was told in Louisiana to never mention that I cook Minute Rice. Why, you may be thinking? Some Southern cooks "look down" on you for that!

Growing up in West Virginia, we always had freshly baked Corn Bread with our Pinto Beans, and we still have it today. My husband Charlie is the Corn Bread Master at our house. He uses an iron skillet, of course!

Of course there's always side dishes like spinach and Fried Potatoes with Onions.

And don't forget the seasonings! We always keep plenty of black pepper on hand along with Tony Chachere's. Tabasco Sauce and Louisiana Hot Sauces are always available at our house if you want some extra heat.

At a recent "Pinto Bean" dinner at our home, I took pictures of everyone's bowl.

Here's how it turned out:

Pinto Beans with Smoked Sausage 
over Rice with green or white onions

Pinto Beans with lots of Black Pepper
The Rice is underneath, of course!

Pinto Beans with Smoked Sausage and 
Fried Potatoes with Onions

Traditional Pinto Beans with Corn Bread

And what do we do with the leftovers? Pinto Beans are always good warmed up on another day. You may need to add some water when you reheat. At our house, we also add extra smoked sausage. The grandkids love it!

Grandson Alex often eats leftover Pinto Beans with Green Onions for breakfast! He has even taken them for lunch at school in a thermos. Now that's a dedicated Pinto Bean lover! 

Pinto Beans - delicious many ways! Just ask my family!

What is your favorite way to eat Pinto Beans?

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