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|There is not one single method
of cooking beans. At its most basic, you want to simmer the pot until
the beans are soft. Soaking can speed up the process and vegetables
or stock will make them more flavorful. It's really that simple.
Normally on a bean cooking day (which frankly
is everyday at Rancho Gordo), I put the beans to soak in the morning,
after rinsing in lots of cool water and checking for small debris.
I cover the beans by about an inch or so.
If you haven't soaked, don't fret. Go ahead and
cook them, knowing it will take a bit longer.
Heirloom and Heritage varieties don't need
a lot of fussing if they are used fresh, which I'd define as within
two years. You can use a ham bone, chicken stock or as I prefer, simply
a few savory vegetables.
A classic mirepoix is a mix of onion, celery
and carrot diced fine and sautéed in some kind of fat, often
olive oil. A crushed clove of garlic doesn't hurt. If I'm cooking
Mexican or Southwestern, I will sauté just onion and garlic
in mild bacon drippings or even freshly rendered lard.
Add the beans and their soaking water to
a large pot. You have been told before to change the water and rinse
the beans. The thinking now is that vitamins and flavor can leech
out of the beans into the soaking water you are throwing down the
sink. There is no scientific evidence that changing the water cuts
down on the gas.
The beans will have expanded, so make sure they
are still covered by at least an inch, maybe a bit more. Add the
sautéed vegetables and give a good stir. Raise your heat
to medium high and bring to a hard boil.
||Keep the beans at a boil for about
five minutes and then reduce them to a gentle simmer, then cover.
I like to see how low I can go and still get the occasional simmering
bubble. When the beans are almost ready, the aroma will be heady.
They won't smell so much like the vegetables you've cooked but the
beans themselves. At this point. I'd go ahead and salt them. Go easy
as it takes awhile for the beans to absorb the salt. If you want to
add tomatoes or acids like lime or vinegar, wait until the beans are
If the bean water starts to get low, always add
hot water from a tea kettle. The tap produces disgusting water for
So you're done! Once you've mastered this method,
go ahead and try some different techniques. Your bean friends will
swear by this or that method and you should take their advice, keeping
in mind there are few absolutes when it comes to cooking beans,
only that is very hard work to mess up a pot of beans.