I don’t know why, but something about cooking dry beans seems intimidating. I suppose it could have something to do with the whole, soaking, draining, cooking for a few hours, and then hoping they’re not crunchy in the end thing.
But, turns out, it’s not scary. I’ve only done it a few times before now, and I did it on the stove. I decided to give it a try in the slow cooker to see if I felt less stressed about it. VICTORY!
I’ve now tested this recipe about 4 times, twice with pinto beans and twice with black beans. I wanted to give it a fair shake and really get it where I want it. I tried soaking and not soaking the beans beforehand, and both worked out great!
I’m not sure what’s made the real difference, but for me, the beans turned out far more tender than the times I’ve made them on my stovetop. You can pull them out when they’re soft and use them in place of a plain ol’ can o’ beans if you like, or you can let them go a while longer and mash them up to make “refried” beans, as pictured. (Sophie’s on pureed foods strike, so she wouldn’t eat them unless they were whole. We set out a little portion for her before mashing the rest).
As for the flavorings, this is the most basic recipe and is, therefore, quite bland. To spice things up, I added plenty of salt and pepper, about 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 1/2-1 tsp cider vinegar. (They don’t taste vinegar-y, but the vinegar provides a little brightness.) I’m sure you could use lime juice if you prefer. Other ideas for dressing them up: stir in a can of diced green chiles, throw in a minced jalapeno, or mix in a chipotle chili in adobo sauce.
Make them your own and don’t fear the dry beans!
p.s. this completes #69 on our 101 Things to Do in 1001 DaysPrint