Here's the Dish

Patsy's Ranch-Style Pinto Beans with Smoked Sausage and Rotel Tomatoes

By Charlotte on August 2, 2013 8:20 AM

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.

These praise-worthy pintos are sure to appeal to anyone who appreciates a little heat.

Red Beans Ready to Eat - Use This One - 600.jpgWhat'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.

Be sure to cover the beans with plenty of water before soaking. Otherwise, they'll swell and dry out.


Soaking Beans-600.jpg

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.

You need these 6 ingredients plus water and smoked sausage to make perfect pintos.

Red Beans Ingredients-600.jpg

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.

Cook the onlon and sausage in a REALLY big pot like IMUSA's 11.6-quart caldero; then add all the remaining ingredients except salt.

Red Beans in the Pan-600.jpg

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

Makes 6 main dish servings

  • Red Beans Ready to Eat - Use This One - 600.jpg1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 package smoked sausage (2 links beef or chicken sausage such as Eckrich skinless), cut in approximately 1 inch pieces
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 (10-ounce) can Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon Hot Mexican-Style or standard chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons (4 packages) sugar substitute such as Truvia or 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 to 1 tablespoon salt

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.

We'd like to shout out a big "Thank You" to my mom for teaching me how to make the BEST beans and to IMUSA for providing a free caldero for review and testing.


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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

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By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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