Nothing beats a fresh pot of Pinto Beans. No can or pouch of ready made pinto beans matches the awesome taste of freshly made Pinto Beans in a clay pot. It requires a small amout of ingredients and a few hours of your divide time.
Step 1: What You Will Need
1) clay pot
2) a metal bowl that fits over the clay pot
3) 2 lbs bag of dried pinto beans
4) 2 tbsp of crushed garlic
5) 1 to 2 Tbsp of salt
6) a gallon of water
1) chopped onion
2) chopped tomato
3) chopped Serrano pepper
4) chopped cilantro
Step 2: The Clay Pot
You can get a clay pot at most Mexican Grocery stores. They are pretty common in Mexican cooking. When you are shopping for one, make sure it has a tag or label that states it is "LEAD FREE". There some authentic clay pots that contain lead. Always avoid those. If you have doubts, they have a lead testing kit that can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowes that can be used to test the pot before you buy it.
SIZE - make sure to get a pot that is big enough. When you add the full amount of dry beans to the pot, it should only occupy 1/3 of the clay pot. The beans will double in size when they absorb water. Then you need some head room to prevent boil overs. I like to have 4 inches of head room to prevent boil overs.
Step 3: Metallic Bowl
I like to cover my clay pot when cooking pinto beans with a metallic bowl or sauce pan. This makes the beans come out nice and light colored. Not sure if the flavor is any different, but I prefer the resulting color of the beans as that is what I have been eating my whole life.
Step 4: Cleaning the Pinto Beans
Depending on where you buy your pinto beans you may have to clean them. I always clean them. When the beans are harvested you sometimes get small rocks in the bag. Nothing ruins an awesome bowl of beans like finding a rock in them when your eating them. So I clean them always. Cleaning requires that you spread the beans out on a clean surface like a table and visually inspect them all before use them. On this batch of beans I only found one rock this time.
Step 5: Washing the Beans
The beans then need to be washed. I wash them in the same clay pot. I put the dry beans in the pot. Fill up the pot with water. Then you stir the beans with your hands 5 or 6 times. Then using your hand as a strainer, pour out the dirty water. I wash them at least two times before I fill up the pot to 4 inches from the top rim of the pot.
Step 6: Add Garlic
Add the 2 tbsp of crushed garlic to the water and beans
Step 7: Cover
Place the metallic bowl over the top of the clay pot and fill the bowl 3/4's with water. This water will be the same temperature as the mixture inside the clay pot. So when your mixture is running too dry, use this preheated water to bring the mixture back up to 4 inches from the top of the rim of the clay pot.
Step 8: Bring to Boil
Bring the mixture up to a boil. Keep close eye on it as it will boil over some if you the heat is too high. When the mixture is boiling, lower the heat low enough to maintain a slow boil.
Step 9: Cook for 2 Hours
Check the beans every 30 minutes. Using a big long spoon, carefully mix the beans all the way from the bottom of the clay pot. This is to verify there is not dry spot in the mixture. A dry spot in the beans especially at the bottom, can cause the beans to stick to the pot. If the mixture is running a little low on water, add the pre-heated water in the metal bowl. Then refill the bowl with water to keep a pre-heated source of water available for the next check in. Because the beans were pre-soaked for 2 hours, they beans will fully cook in two hours.
Step 10: Salt the Beans
At the end of the 2 hours. The beans should be able to break apart within your fingers pretty easily. I like to check a couple of beans by chewing them and making sure they are not chalkie. If they are chalkie, I'll let them cook for another 15 minutes and check them again for done-ness. When they are done, I will add the 1 tbsp of salt to the beans. I will then mix thoroughly with a large spoon. Then I will check the liquid for saltyness. If they need more, i'll add another teaspoon at a time. Over salting the beans can ruin the hours of work. So don't over salt the beans.
Step 11: Serve in Bowl
My family always has a habit of serving beans with raw rarnish as seen in the pic. The raw garnish consists of chopped onions, tomatoes, serrano peppers, and cilantro. Serve piping hot and enjoy simple goodness of pinto beans.