February 6, 2013 | Beans & Grains, Technique
Before I get to the meat of this post – how to cook the perfect dried beans – I wanted to remind everyone that I’m giving away a copy of my new cookbook, Tasting Colorado: Favorite Recipes from the Centennial State. Check out last week’s post here, tweet or write about the book on Facebook, then leave me a comment that you’ve done so for a chance to win a free copy. The book showcases the dazzling variety of Colorado’s cuisine, from classic Western fare to innovative fusions of global flavors. Mouthwatering photographs complement 120 recipes both simple and sumptuous from Colorado’s finest restaurants, lodges, and bed-and-breakfasts. When I posted the recipe from the book last week, I forgot to mention the book giveaway, so wanted to remind all of you to visit that post for a chance to win a copy! Now, on to the topic at hand: how do you cook dried beans with very little effort and make then tender and delicious?There are a few things you need to know about dried beans. First, they take a long time to cook unless you soak them first. Second, as they soak, the starches that produce intestinal discomfort begin to dissolve, so if you throw out the soaking water, you eliminate some of the problematic digestive problems with beans. And third, if you cook them too quickly, as in boil them rapidly, they will break down to a mushy mess. My technique is simple and foolproof:1. Rinse the dried beans, removing any cracked beans or small stones that are sometimes missed.
2. Place the beans in a large stockpot and cover with at least 4 inches of water over the top of the beans.
3. Let the beans soak for 24 hours – most people say overnight, but I like a longer soak.
4. Drain the beans and rinse again.
5. Return the beans to the pot and cover again with water.
6. Simmer the beans (there should be very little bubbling going on to avoid breaking the beans) until tender – usually 1-3 hours.So why go through the fuss? Dried beans are nutritionally dense, are a complex carbohydrate providing lots of fiber, are a great source of non-meat low-fat protein, and they are plentiful in vitamins and minerals. Simply put, dried beans are an important part of a healthy diet, so let’s all vow to eat more today!