Good Country Eating: Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are a staple country food in the south United States.
Growing up, we ate lots of pinto beans, cornbread, and fried potatoes.
My mom, and both grandmothers, always put bacon, ham, ham hocks, or bacon grease in their beans for flavoring.
Unfortunately, as I get older, I find that, though the meat and drippings make the beans taste great, the beans don't sit well on my stomach with them included. I have learned to make them without the meat or drippings, and my stomach is much happier.
The good news is that pinto beans are a staple food that lasts for years, if they are kept dry and air tight, so you don't have to worry about the dry beans going bad if they are not used up quickly.
Homemade pinto beans are easy to make and taste so much better than canned beans. To make beans for a crowd, perfect for a picnic, family reunion, or family barbeque, the following recipe is great!
Pinto Beans Recipe for a Crowd
- 4 cups dry pinto beans (soak overnight if desired, but I don't bother)
- 6 quarts of water
- 1 1/2 tbsp. to 2 tbsp. salt to taste
- 1/2 lb. bacon or ham (optional)
- Pick the beans to ensure there are no clumps of dirt or rocks in them.
- Wash the beans, drain them, and wash again.
- Drain the beans and put in the stock pot or bean pot.
- Add water. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 30 minutes.
- Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook three hours, adding hot water as needed to maintain 6 quarts of water in the pot.
- After three hours, add salt and stir. Simmer covered for another hour.
- If you wish the broth to be thicker, remove the lid and simmer another half hour to hour, but watch closely to prevent water from evaporating and burning the beans.
Some people like to soak the beans for a few hours or overnight, then rinse the beans before continuing to cook them. Another option is to rinse them and add new water after the first thirty minutes of cooking.
I do not do this, but some in my family do. It is a matter of choice and taste.
Fond Childhood Memories
When I was a child, Mom would put the beans on early in the morning.
With the beans simmering, she could do housework or sewing, whatever she needed to get done, and when they were almost done, she would make cornbread and fry potatoes.
We would smell those beans cooking all day, and couldn't wait until they were ready. Delicious and a meal many adults will remember fondly from their childhoods.
Do you like pinto beans, too?