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Pinto Beans

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A.K.A

red Mexican bean

What is it?

Pinto, Spanish for “painted,” refers to the reddish streak found on this small, flavorful bean when dried (the streak fades when cooked). A favorite in chili and refried beans as well as baked beans and soup, dried pinto beans need a long simmer. Also available canned.

Kitchen math:

1 cup dried beans = 2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked

Don’t have it?

Substitute pink beans.

How to choose:

Choose dried beans that look plump, unwrinkled, and evenly colored. Pick over dried beans before using to remove any small pebbles.

How to prep:

Canned beans should be thoroughly rinsed and drained before using. Dried should be soaked before cooking, both to speed cooking time and to reduce any gas-causing tendencies. There are two ways to soak dried beans: Overnight soak: Rinse the beans, then cover with an inch of cold water and let soak at room temperature for at least four hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking them. Quick-soak method: Rinse the beans, then put in a saucepan, cover with an inch of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes and then let them soak for an hour off the heat, drain, and then add fresh water and continue cooking.

To cook, use 3 cups of water for each cup of uncooked beans; you can season the beans by adding bay leaves, herb sprigs, or garlic cloves to the cooking water. Pintos can take up to 2-1/2 hours to soften; begin checking at 1-1/2 hours. The myth that adding salt to beans while they cook will toughen their skins is completely false, so feel free to salt while cooking to boost the beans’ flavor.

How to store:

Canned beans have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years. Store dried beans in a covered container for up to 1 year. You can precook beans and store them, refrigerated, in their cooking liquid for up to 3 days.

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