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On a Budget

Mexican pot beans

(styling/karoline boehm goodnick; wiqan ang for the boston globe)
October 8, 2008

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Serves 4 with leftovers

To make a pot of robust Mexican beans, you need just a few everyday ingredients - dried pinto beans, chili powder, onions, garlic, and canned tomatoes. Use the quick-soak method of bringing the dried beans to a boil and letting them sit for an hour before draining and starting the regular cooking. Mexican natives enjoy these rich, creamy, spicy beans any time of day: as a side dish with eggs for breakfast; or for lunch or dinner wrapped in flour or corn tortillas and stuffed with grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, shredded lettuce, and salsa. Beans contain the highest percentage of protein of any vegetable, so they're healthy and filling. New research says the low-fat, high-fiber content of beans protects against heart disease and controls weight. Mexican pot beans have it all: taste, wholesomeness, and low cost. Each cup - this pot makes 10 - is little more than "two bits" (25 cents).

2 pounds dried pinto beans
3 quarts water
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (about 14 ounces) whole plum or fire roasted tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
Salt, to taste
1. In a large pot, bring the beans and 1 quart of the water to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pot stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain the beans into a colander and rinse with cold water.

2. In the pot combine the beans, the remaining 2 quarts of water, onions, chili powder, and garlic. Bring to a simmer, partially cover with the lid, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and salt (beans need at least 1 tablespoon for flavor). Continue cooking, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the beans are very tender and the broth thickens. Allison Boomer