I think I am most famous for my pinto beans and am often asked for the recipe. I must be famous because the Scoutmaster asked me for a detailed account. Well…..I use to soak the beans overnight as my mother always did and then cook them several hours with a chopped onion (so they would smell good while cooking). Now I usually start them cooking early in the morning from the dried stage.
#1 I always choose fresh beans and never never use old beans that are dark brown! I buy in bulk as I fix beans once a week and this is most economical.
#2 I check to make sure there are no rocks. (can sort them out on the counter, especially if they are older)
#3 I fill my colander about half full of dried beans. This makes a medium crockpot full. A 2/3 full colander needs the large crockpot.
#4 I place the colander in a large bowl and thoroughly wash the beans and swish them around in constant running water for a couple of minutes.
#5 I chop an onion in big chunks and throw it in the crockpot with the beans, shake maybe a tablespoon or two of red pepper on top, and add a pinch or two of epazote. I bought my epazote in Sante Fe when I took a cooking class. It looks like I will have to reorder online as I cannot find a local place that has it.
Native to Central America, especially Mexico and Guatemala, epazote is common to those cuisines. It is most often used fresh in these regions to flavor beans, corn and fish. The strongly scented herb is said to help avoid the gastric discomfort that sometimes occurs after eating beans. Ancient Aztecs used epazote both medicinally and as a culinary herb.
Do not add salt until beans are done! This insures beans will be tender.
#6 The last step is to fill the crock pot with water to about 3 inches from the top, then set the switch to high and cook for about 5 or 6 hours or more. It seems to take about the same time for pre-soaked beans.
Salt beans about 15 to 30 minutes before you want to eat. You can also add any other herbs you like. Sometimes I add Mexican oregano from my herb garden and/or peppers from my garden. My 19 year old son likes to eat leftovers every day for lunch as he makes nacho supreme, piling the beans on chips with plenty of fresh garden jalapenos and grated cheese and sour cream. They do freeze well, but we seldom have enough left over. They stay fresh for 5 days in the refrigerator.
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