What is great about having such staples on hand is you always have something to cook - no excuses. I promise preparing your own pinto beans from dried beans, for example, is far superior to anything that comes out of a can. Also, you may find that buying dried products, especially if you can buy in bulk is highly cost effective. Okay, enough preaching, let's cook some beans!
Best Pinto Beans
1 pound or about 4 cups dried pinto beans
1 yellow onion
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea Salt (to taste)
Fresh cracked black pepper (optional)
Begin by thoroughly washing beans and put in a large pot of cold water. Soak beans overnight covered on the counter. Or, if you don't have time to soak, bring beans to a roaring boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain beans, dump water and return beans to pot. Cover with 8 cups cold water. Slice onion in half and add it to the pot along with the bay leaves and oregano. DO NOT ADD SALT YET!!
Cook on high until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook partially covered (just crock the pot lid to the side) for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste test a few beans for tenderness. If the beans are not tender enough to your liking (this can happen when cooking at a very low temperature), continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
By now your beans should be tender. Drain beans, reserving adequate liquid to keep beans in a bath. I like my beans to have some liquid. If you prefer a dryer end product you can drain all liquid but keep in mind that is flavorful broth that would make a beautiful bean soup!
Remove bay leaves and onion (they have done their job. Now add your salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and store unused portion in glass jars in refrigerator for up to one week.
Optional addition: If you are not concerned about adding fat to this one pot wonder, after beans are cooked you may want to add a drizzle of olive or canola oil to give the beans added richness. Similarly, you can "re-fry" cooked and cooled beans in a little oil and smash them for a refried bean texture.