• 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • water
  • 1/4 pound salt pork
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, soak beans in water overnight. See Note, below, about soaking beans.
  2. With a sharp knife, make several slashes into, but not all the way through, the salt pork.
  3. Pour off soaking water and add fresh water to cover by at least one inch. Add the salt pork, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Simmer on low heat at least 4 hours or until water is absorbed and mixture is thick.
  4. Correct seasonings, if necessary.
  5. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: Cooking Dried Beans -- To Soak or Not to Soak: Dried beans cook faster if they are soaked. 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.

Ready in: 5 Hrs

Recipe editor Patricia Mitchell