Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes, Side Dishes, Soups and Stews

Perfect Pot of Beans

September 17, 2014
 There’s been a bean embargo of sorts put down on the Professor. 

Apparently his consumption has crept into unsustainable territories and a he was put on notice that his activities in the bean department were being closely monitored. He’s a man who really enjoys his beans so it’s getting a little ugly around here.

If Louisa catches him reaching for a can of black beans (breakfast is usually when he tries to slide by unnoticed) she comes out of nowhere like a freakin’ ninja and says in a strikingly accurate motherly tone, “Papa… is NOT a bean day”.

She’s got him on a schedule.

I feel for him, because I love beans too. So for the rest of us who aren’t on watch, right now is perfect bean eating season. This recipe is the one I make on an almost weekly basis. I got it from my friend Tomasa who I worked with during my days at Firefly in San Francisco. She would chop up a huge pile of onions, get them nice and soft then add loads of spice. They are an absolute classic. These beans come out initially very soupy and we do eat it like bean soup with a squeeze of lime and maybe some sautéed beet greens on top. But if there are leftovers we will scoop out spoonfuls, letting the liquid drain back into the bowl and fry them with oil or bacon grease, mashing to a perfect refried consistency.

There’s debate whether salting the beans before they are fully cooked inhibits their softening. I believe it so I don’t add salt until the beans are perfectly soft. It may be an old wives tale but it’s one I choose not to mess with.

The recipe makes a lot but these beans are one of those things that are better the longer they sit so making a huge batch is to your benefit. And if you’re only allowed beans every other day, then that could take a while.

Perfect Pot of Beans

Yield: 8 Servings


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, lard, or bacon grease
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 jalapeños, cored, chopped, and seeds removed if you'd like it less spicy
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  1. Rinse beans in a colander to remove and dirt, while rinsing them be sure to run your fingers through them to check for small pebbles or rocks. Transfer beans to a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak, preferably, overnight. If you are in a hurry you can rinse them and cook them as is but they will take much longer to get soft.
  2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and jalapeños and cook until starting to become tender, but not brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, chile powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Let spices toast for a minute or two.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans then add them to the pot along with the bay leaf and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover. Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, until tender. This could take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on how long you soaked the beans and how fresh they are. Add salt and taste. If it is not salty enough for your tastes, add some more and serve.

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  • NicoleD September 17, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Mmmm…this looks good! I actually have a pot simmering at home in the slow cooker right now and I’m making cornbread, too. This recipe looks like a keeper. I followed a recipe from The Kitchn and they say to salt a little in the beginning and add more when the beans have softened. I hope it works! I like thinking of your daughter as the bean ninja, ha!

    • Kate Ramos September 18, 2014 at 1:52 am

      Thanks so much Nicole! Yes, cornbread is a must….so good with beans! I think Louisa enjoys her role very much too! 🙂