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Recipes // Side Dishes // Simple Beans From The Pot

Simple Beans From The Pot

Makes 5 generous cups cooked beans and 2 cups cooking liquid

Preparation time: 3 minutes

Cooking time: about 1½ hours

Can be made up to 4 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated

Home-cooked beans are helpful, well-behaved, adaptable, and easy to make. Yes, they take some time to cook, but they need only as much babysitting as a ten-year-old—you just need to sneak a peek every now and then. Whether in Mexico or not, you will always find a pot of beans cooking in any Mexican home, filling the kitchen with a warm, earthy aroma and comforting steaminess, an ambiance I hanker for when I am hungry or homesick.

With a side of warm corn tortillas and pickled chiles or salsa, you really don’t need anything else. Of course, if you have some ripe avocado and fresh crumbled cheese too, you will have a feast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (about 2½ cups) dried black or pinto beans
  • ½ large white onion
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 cilantro sprigs or 3–4 fresh epazote leaves (optional)

Directions:

  1. Rinse the beans in cold water, pick them over, and drain. Place them in a large pot or casserole and cover with at least 3 inches of water. Add the onion and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a happy simmer, partially covered, until the beans are cooked through and soft, 1¼ to 1½ hours, depending on their age.
  2. Add the salt and cilantro, if using, and cook for 15 minutes more, or until the beans are so soft that they come apart if you hold one between your fingers, and the broth has thickened to a soupy consistency. If the beans are not quite there and the broth is drying out, add more water.
  3. Remove the onion and herbs with a slotted spoon before serving the beans.
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