Cowboy Pinto Beans
Combine all ingredients, except salt, in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low simmer. Cook very slowly, covered. Stir beans up from the bottom occasionally, and add water if they start looking dry.
Cook for at least 2 hours. When beans are soft (not mushy), but still hold their shape, they are done.
Note: Cooking Dried Beans -- To Soak or Not to Soak: Dried beans cook faster if they are soaked in advance. Cover beans with 2 inches of water, soak them overnight, drain, and then cook according to your recipe. A shortcut to overnight soaking is to cover the beans with plenty of water, bring them to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Then, turn off the heat, cover tightly, and let them sit for 1 hour. Then, drain and cook as usual.
People in areas with hard water can cook their beans till the cows come home, and the beans will still be tough or not thoroughly done. If you have that problem, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water, and you will have one less problem.
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