Sometimes the best way to cook heirloom beans is the classic pot of beans. In the Southwest, generations have grown up with a pot of beans on the stove no matter what time of year. They become a side for whatever you are serving and then any leftovers go in salads, soups, tacos, you name it. This recipe is simple so that it lets the flavor of the beans shine through.
You do not NEED to soak your beans, it simply cuts down on cooking time. In his book, Cool Beans, Joe Yonan tells us that soaking beans is completely unnecessary. That said, some people with inflammation issues have found that soaking beans makes them more digestible. If you do soak, it's recommended to leave them on the counter for 12-24 hours and change the water frequently.
Kombu, aka seaweed, is a total ninja cooking move. Kombu not only makes the beans tastier, it also makes them more digestible! The glutimates in kombu enhance the flavor of everything you add it to kind of like nature’s MSG. The amino acids in the kombu soften the beans outer skin for better texture. Bonus it also makes them a easier on your tummy. It's a total game changers so we highly recommend you don't skip this.
We make a LOT of beans and we've rounded up the best advice from chefs and cooks around the world in our Guide To Cooking Heirloom Beans. We've got instructions on cooking beans in everything from the pressure cooker to the crock pot.
Rinse the beans thoroughly looking for stones or field debris and pull out any broken or shriveled beans.
Heat the cooking pot of your choice (slow cooker, pressure cooker, big dutch oven on the stove) to medium high and add the diced bacon. If your crock pot does not have a removable insert that can go on the stove you'll need to use a separate pan for this.
Once the bacon has rendered its fat and is starting to brown add the diced onions and sauté until translucent.
Add the rinsed beans to the cooking pot and add the salt, bay or cinnamon tree leaf, chilis and kombu.
Slice the top of the head of garlic off, exposing the cloves and put the entire head of garlic in the pot nestled among the beans.
Add enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches, more if you want more bean broth for a soup.
In a pressure cooker cook on high for 30 minutes and allow to decompress naturally. If the beans are not soft put the lid back on and cook for another 10-15 minutes. In a crock pot cook on low for 8-10 hours. On the stovetop bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 2-3 hours adding water as needed to keep the beans submerged.
Serve with chopped cilantro, fresh jalapeno peppers, diced onion, avocado and cotija cheese.
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