Pinto Beans in a Pot

On Monday I posted the recipe for the Chipotle Lime Skirt Steak shown in the photo above. I’m a Kansas City girl and I love steak but if I’m honest, my favorite part of the meal was the bowl of pinto beans.

Slightly spicy, tender, and delicious, pinto beans are a snap to make.

They are so simple to make that I wasn’t going to post the recipe until my husband reminded me that he’d never had pinto beans like these before we met.

There are many benefits of cooking dried beans. First and foremost, they are cheap and make a huge batch. Beans now and beans later. They are extremely versatile so you can eat them plain, as a side dish, wrapped in a tortilla (my favorite), or spruced up with a bit of cheese and other veggies and wrapped into a burrito.

And beans are healthy and good for you! They’re full of fiber, vitamins, and protein. They make my sometimes funky stomach, very happy.

Pinto Beans in a Pot. That’s what we call them at our house.

Here’s what you need:

Dried Pinto Beans, Ham Hock (optional), Diced Green Chilis, Olive Oil, Chili Powder (optional and not pictured), Onion, Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Pinto Beans in a Pot Shopping List

If you are the plan ahead type,  for the quickest cooking and most tender beans, soak the beans overnight in a large pot of water. When you’re ready to cook, drain the beans and discard the soaking water.

If you are not able to soak the beans ahead – I rarely remember to do it – just be aware that you will need 2 1/2 to 3 hours cooking time vs 1 1/2 to 2 hours for pre-soaked beans.

Chop up one large onion. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large pot and saute the onion about 5 minutes over medium high heat until tender but not browned.

Pick through the dried beans to be sure there are not any sticks or pebbles in with the beans. I also like to rinse the dried beans because they are often quite dusty. Add 1 pound of dried pinto beans to the pot.

Add 6 cups of water to the pot.

I use a ham hock for extra flavor about 50% of the time that I make these beans. If you want to go vegetarian, you can leave out the ham hock and not really notice a huge flavor difference.

Season with some freshly ground pepper. I like to wait until the end of cooking to salt the beans.

Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours until the beans are very tender but not falling apart.

Stop by the pot occasionally to stir the beans up from the bottom to prevent sticking. Notice how the beans are becoming tender and turning the water into a savory broth.

Six cups of water should be enough but if you fear that your beans are getting too dry before they are super tender, just add a little more water and keep cooking.

When the beans are tender, remove the ham hock and discard. Stir in 2 (4.5 ounce) cans of diced green chilis. These chilis are really quite mild but have great flavor. If you are concerned about the beans being too spicy, start with one can.

I also like to season the beans with 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Sometimes I use chipotle chili powder if I have it for a smoky flavor. I only use a bit because I want these beans to taste like beans and not like a bowl of chili. Season the beans to taste with salt & pepper.

Dish up a nice bowl of the beans and dig in. My favorite way to eat these is to wrap a big spoonful of beans in a warm corn tortilla. So good.

This makes a big, huge pot of beans. Probably 8 servings. They keep well in the refrigerator for several days and even get better as the flavors blend together.

Here’s the recipe:

Pinto Beans in a Pot

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3 Responses

    1. I think Cumin would be a great addition to these beans. I think the secret is to season them lightly enough that they still taste like beans. And thanks for the great link. Heirloom beans, here I come!

  1. HOLY CATS you and I sure do read each other’s minds. I made my first ever refried from dry pinto beans last week. I just kinda winged it (and used, of course, soy sausage instead, and a sliced fresh jalapeno) and when the beans got like this here, I mashed them then fried them. IT IS easy, but I never would have thought to NOT mash them and eat them like this, like soup or, well, beans! Excellent………… btw, as for KC and steak and all, Calvin Trillin wrote an essay on the KC stockyards of his childhood, and I believe, there was a huge statue of a steer that was all that was left? KC is so awesome 🙂 You and your beans are so awesome!
    BTW, I see guac there—I made guac yesterday and I had a boatload of fresh cilantro and mashed it in there, and was afraid at first that there was too much…. NO. There is no such thing as too much cilantro.

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