Growing up, I adored Sunday lunches at my Mamaw Robertson's house. She cooked wonderful pinto beans especially for me - the 1 of her 13 grandchildren who wasn't a fried chicken fan. Yes, I was the oddball but she never complained. Instead, she happily made my favorite dish, let me add ketchup for a tomato taste and taught my mom Patsy how to cook guaranteed-tender red beans.
Mom says she's been preparing pintos for so many years she can't count them. (Let's just say it's 50+ so this woman knows her beans!) A natural talent in the kitchen, mom has tweaked mamaw's time-tested veggie recipe to take it into main dish territory and give it a Tex-Mex twist that removes the need for ketchup or other condiments. Anything but plain-Jane, these rockin', ranch-style pintos are so good that mom's east Texas neighbors, not to mention our family, think they've died and gone to heaven when she serves them.
What's the secret to making perfect pintos? As my mom says, once you learn how, repeating the success is as natural as riding a bike.
Begin by soaking the beans in plenty of water overnight. Make sure the water is several inches above the beans.
The next day, set out a large onion, some smoked sausage, a can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies, chili powder, a sugar substitute like our go-to Truvia or sugar, Tabasco, salt and a REALLY big pan. If you can't find Rotel, use canned, diced tomatoes and add some green chilies. We like Hot Mexican-Style Chili powder but you can go for the standard variety if desired.
Although Mom normally pulls out a large, tall stockpot for this dish, I loved using an 11.6-quart IMUSA caldero (cauldron in English; $59.99 at Macy's and Kohl's) when making these beans recently. It looks like a Dutch oven but is super light because it's made from hammered cast aluminum. They say that improves heat distribution so foods cook more evenly.
Great for preparing rice, beans, stews, roasts, spaghetti and more, this huge pot can be used on top of the stove or in the oven, has sides low enough to allow easy stirring and its nonstick interior means you can use less oil. Cleanup's also a synch because food doesn't cling to the pan and you can put it in the dishwasher.
Chop the onion, slice the sausage and place them in your pan, cooking over low heat until the onion is tender. Drain the beans. Then add them to the pot with all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the salt. Hold off sprinkling in the salt until the beans are almost done. Otherwise, they'll be tough.
Bring the mixture to a boil; then lower the heat to a simmer. Let the beans cook, uncovered, for 4 hours, checking them routinely to make sure they aren't boiling dry. If they need more liquid, add warm water to help keep them tender.
Once the beans are soft, add the salt, stir and taste to make sure you have enough seasoning. At this point, you can turn off the heat, cover your creation and leave it on a back burner or put it in the fridge or even in the freezer if you're really thinking ahead.
Later, simply reheat these praise-worthy pintos and serve with cornbread or over rice. They're a substantial taste treat sure to appeal to anyone who appreciates a little heat.
Patsy's Ranch-Style Pinto Beans with Sausage and Rotel Tomatoes
Put the beans in a large bowl, cover completely with water and soak overnight. (The beans will swell and dry out if you don't have enough water.)
Next morning, place the onion and sausage in a large pan. Cook over low heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
Drain the beans and add to the onion and sausage mixture along with the water, Rotel tomatoes, chili powder, sweetener and Tabasco. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook 4 hours. Check the beans occasionally to make sure they aren't boiling dry. If they need more liquid, add warm water. This keeps them from becoming tough.
Add the salt. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed and serve.
You'll also like: