My Mexican Pinto Beans

Circle B Kitchen

This is a recipe I got from Cousin Katie whose neighbor saw her eating beans from a can and promptly took her inside and showed her how to make real Mexican pinto beans. I will forever be grateful to this neighbor and Cousin Katie, because these are the exact beans I've been looking for all my life. If you, like me, prefer not to use lard, you can substitute shortening and create the same silky, lovely texture in the beans. I use Earth Balance organic vegetable shortening, but you could use Spectrum or even Crisco, if you like, or leave it out.

1 lb. dried pinto beans

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons lard or shortening (see head note)

1. Wash the beans and then cover them with water by a couple of inches and let them begin boiling. Once they begin boiling, add the salt. Partially cover and let them simmer for four hours or so, adding additional water, if necessary. You can tell when the beans are thoroughly cooked when you blow on them and the skin peels.

2. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Place the beans in a heavy pot, along with a cup or so of the cooking liquid and the lard or shortening, if using. Mash a few of the beans, cook and stir until they're at your desired consistency (I like to leave lots of the beans whole). Add more salt if needed and let them simmer a bit before serving.

Note: I have started cooking my beans in the oven and it seems a superior cooking method than the stovetop, not to mention so much easier. Simply wash and pick over 1 lb of beans and place them in a large heavy dutch oven. Cover them with water to about an inch or so above the beans. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, cover the pan tightly with a lid and bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. Test for doneness and continue baking for another few minutes if the beans aren't completely soft. Mash the beans to the desired consistency and taste for salt. Stir in the shortening and let them sit for a few minutes for serving.

Another Note: Since I wrote that last note, I have acquired an Instant Pot and now I make all of my beans (no soak) in it. To do this, I place 1 lb of dried pinto beans in the Instant Pot and cover them with 8 cups of water and add in 2 teaspoons of salt. Sometimes I throw in half an onion too. Close the lid and set the valve to seal. Cook for 30 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally, which will take another 45 minutes or so. Your beans will be perfectly cooked and ready to use! Proceed to step 2.