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Major Nikon

Major Nikon's Journal
Major Nikon's Journal
February 22, 2013

My recipe for pinto beans

I like making pinto beans and it seems I wasn't making them the same each time. I like using pinto beans as a side dish for BBQ and since I recently bought a pretty nice smoker I wanted to standardize my pinto recipe so I could make them easily without having to think about it much. This recipe is very simple and easy, but it produces very good results. Beans are kind of like a blank slate flavor wise, so the possibilities for different ingredients are endless.


1 lb of uncooked pinto beans
~3-4 cups water
1 qt stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne or black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 slices bacon
2 Jalapeno or Serrano peppers

Boil about 6 cups of water in a separate vessel. When the water comes to a boil, cover the beans with the boiling water with about 1/4-1/2" above the beans. Add the salt and stir. After 1 hour of soaking, the beans should have absorbed most of the water. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Set the crock pot to low, cover, and cook until the beans are tender. Cooking times will depend on how hot your crock pot is on low and how hard your water is, but should take around 4-5 hours. Season to taste once they are done.

Naturally the problem with beans is flatulence. This is caused by indigestible starches which pass through your digestive track to your lower intestines, where the resident bacteria flora have a field day with them. The increased action from this bacteria produces more gas than you normally would. Pinto beans are not as bad as other types, like lima beans, but the problem is still there. Using large volumes of soaking water, soaking overnight, and tossing the soaking water before cooking will help, because many of the indigestible starches will dissolve into the soaking water and can be removed. I don't like to do it this way because along with those indigestible starches, you're also throwing away nutrients which have also leached into the soaking water. My solution to this problem is very slow cooking and relatively short soak times. Slow cooking will break down those indigestible starches much better than faster cooking at higher temperatures. It also results in a bean that I think has a better texture than those cooked faster.

If I'm multiplying this recipe by at least 2-3 times I will use a smoked ham hock rather than bacon. If you want to go vegan, leave out the meat and use a bit of liquid smoke at the end to taste or flavor with something else (curry powder is quite nice).

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