I’m dedicating this upcoming week of recipes to Dads in honor of Father’s Day (next Sunday, June 20th). I’ve selected recipes that are favorites of the Dads in my world and am kicking off the week with hearty pinto beans slow-cooked with a pound of bacon. The sauce is slightly sweet, a tad tangy, with just the right amount of heat. These beans are the perfect accompaniment to brats, dogs, and burgers at an outdoor cook-out or Game Day. This side dish is effortless, but it’s NOT quick. The fabulous (and so worth the wait) flavor takes several hours to develop fully. It’s definitely a weekend recipe.
It all starts with the beans. Dried pinto beans are one of the best values going! When I first started cooking dried beans, I couldn’t believe the price – downright cheap. I recommend soaking the beans for at least three hours prior to cooking. I often put the beans in a bowl with salted water before I go to bed, and then they’re ready to use in the morning. There’s a couple of reasons for this, starting with helping beans cook faster and more evenly. Soaking the beans in salted water further increases the speed at which the beans will cook as the salt breaks down the bean covering. However, the real reason why soaking them is to make the beans easier to digest, which is my polite way of saying soaking reduces flatulence (gas). When the beans soak, the water leaches out the sugars in beans responsible for gas production. After soaking the beans, drain and rinse well. Now, you don’t have to do this. You can just rinse off the beans and throw them in the pot if you’re tight on time. Just don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Years ago, I specified using a pound of bacon in this recipe. However, somewhere along the line – can’t tell you when – bacon changed from being packaged in 16 oz (one pound) packages to 12 ounce packages. I hate it when that happens because it messes up recipes. However, 12 oz of bacon works just as well as a whole pound, so I adapted the recipe to state 12-16 ounces. Don’t stress over it; I don’t. Anyway, moving on, the bacon needs to be chopped. Important tip: Froze or slightly frozen bacon is much easier to chop!
Along with chopping the bacon, the onion also needs to be chopped, and the garlic diced. That’s it for prep work. Easy/peasy.
In a large heavy-duty saucepan, add the beans and add the bacon, onion, and garlic. Yes, the bacon goes in the pan raw. There is no need to fry it first. Mix in the other ingredients and enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Bring to a boil. Stir, and reduce the temp to bring it down to a simmer. Put the lid on the pan but don’t completely cover it – let a little steam escape.
The beans need to cook for at least three hours. Depending on if and how long they soaked, they may require an additional thirty minutes to an hour. The beans should be tender and the sauce thick.
If serving the beans on their own as a side dish, I recommend zhooshing ‘em up with some shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and some diced onion. The Dad who inspired this recipe liked to eat these beans scooped on a bratwurst or hotdog. He also used them as a filling for omelets. I draw the line on that one, but hey, whatever floats your boat! Regardless of how you serve them, you’ll never settle for canned beans again. Enjoy!
Pinto Bacon BeansCourse: AmericanCuisine: SidesDifficulty: Easy
Hearty and inexpensive pinto beans are infused with the flavors of smoky bacon, garlic, pungent onion, tangy ketchup, spicy mustard, and taste-enhancing bay leaf for an incredibly tasty yet versatile side dish. Perfect at cook-outs and for game days.
1 pound pinto beans, rinsed
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (12oz – 16oz) bacon, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, diced
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons and1 tablespoon salt (divided)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- Soak beans by covering them with water by 2 inches, add 2 tablespoons salt and soak at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
- Rinse the beans and place them in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the bacon, garlic, onion, sugar, salt, pepper, chile powder, bay leaves ketchup and mustard. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches, stir to mix, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
- Cover the pot but leave the lid slightly ajar and cook until the liquid is thick and the beans are tender, 3 to 4 hours. (Continue to simmer if necessary. The time may vary based on the condition of the beans.) Remove bay leaves.
- Pinto beans: Although recommended, the beans don’t have to be soaked. They can be rinsed and used immediately.
- Bacon: Slightly frozen bacon Is much easier to chop than bacon at room temp.
- Zhoosh up by topping the beans with shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced onions.
- Pinto Bacon Beans pair perfectly with bratwurst, hot dogs, or hamburgers for Game Days and cook-outs