Monday, November 29, 2010

Everything you always wanted to know about Pinto Beans....and then some!

When you’re cooking on a budget, beans are a staple. They’re inexpensive, versatile, and tasty. Pinto beans are a great way to start experimenting with different types of beans and different recipes. Here are some pinto bean facts and information:
Appearance : Pinto beans have a beige background strewn with reddish brown splashes of color. When cooked, their colored splotches disappear, and they become a beautiful pink color.
Nutrition: Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and they prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. They are good for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. Pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. They are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of fiber, foliate and manganese, and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper.

Pinto beans are rich in fiber. One cup cooked pintos provide 58.8% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that combines with bile (which contains cholesterol) and ferries it out of the body. Research has shown that this fiber helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis. Certain phytonutrients—shown to be helpful in prevention of some cancers, including stomach cancer—are also provided in important amounts by pinto beans.

Pinto beans have also been shown to lower your risk of heart attack. They give you energy to burn while they stabilize your blood sugar. They also increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores and help prevent iron deficiency, especially in women. The added bonus is that they are low in calories and fat free, unlike other iron sources. They are an excellent anti oxidant and have been shown to improve and help maintain your memory because they are a good source of thiamin.

Sorting: Before washing pinto beans, sort beans to check for small stones, debris or damaged beans. Then, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.

Soaking: To shorten cooking time and make them easier to digest, pinto beans should be presoaked (presoaking has been found to reduce the sugars associated with causing flatulence.) There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each, put beans in a saucepan with two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

The first method is to boil the beans for 2 minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for 2 hours. Drain soaking liquid and rinse beans with clean water before cooking. Tests show no important amounts of essential nutrients are lost when the soaking and cooking waters are discarded.

The second method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight. Drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water before cooking.

Cooking: Add 3 cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about 1-2” above the top of the beans. Bring beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, simply skim it off during the simmering process. Pinto beans generally take about 1-1 ½ hours to become tender using this method. Do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after beans have been cooked; adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time. Pinto beans can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare.

-To prevent skins from bursting, simmer gently and stir as little as possible.
-Increase cooking time in high altitude and hard water areas.
-Cook the full contents of smaller packages such as the one pound size. Refrigerate or freeze (quick freeze on cookie sheet and store in baggies) leftover cooked beans;
-Store dry beans in airtight glass or metal containers in a cool place.
-Add 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon of baking soda per cup of beans to shorten cooking time in hard water or use distilled water. Excess soda will cause an undesirable flavor and loss of nutrients.
-A t. of sugar and a clove of garlic enhance the flavor of plain, cooked pinto beans.
-If a recipe calls for tomatoes, lemon juice, wine or vinegar, add when beans are almost tender; acid delays softening.

Measuring beans:
One 15-oz. can pinto beans = 1 ½ c. cooked beans, drained or ½ c. dried beans uncooked
One lb. dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans, drained.
One lb. dry beans = 2 cups dry beans.
One cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans, drained.

Pinto beans are very often used in chili in place of kidney beans. Rice and beans are a popular Texas dish. Don’t forget baked beans and even bean salad. Fudge and pie are also made with Pinto beans. Another common use of pinto beans is to make homemade refried beans. There is no comparison between the homemade and the canned beans. Many years ago, a friend of mine who does authentic Mexican cooking, came to my house, taught me how to make homemade refried beans and then used the beans for tostados. They were so good. I learned a lot about beans that night. She told me that the more you eat beans, the more your system gets used to them and the less they bother you. She told me that she always fed her children refried beans or some other beans in a tortilla before school because they didn’t get hungry and stayed healthier during the cold winter months. Here is the recipe for the beans and the tostados.

Homemade refried beans
Here is what you need:
2 lbs. dried pinto beans
Bacon, if desired (not necessary but adds a nice flavor)
Oil (not Olive oil), lard, bacon grease, shortening or butter
1 packet chili seasoning mix or chili powder
2 cloves garlic (optional according to your taste)
½ - 1 medium onion, finely diced (Optional)
Salt to taste
Shredded cheese (optional)
Cooking liquid from beans
In a large pot (about 4 ½ quarts) put 3 - 4 c. of dried, sorted and well-rinsed pinto beans. Soak them in 2-3x that amount water to cover overnight (or use quick soak method above). Drain and rinse beans and put them in the pot and cover them with water to about 2” above the beans. Then add 3 strips of bacon, and onion if desired. Bring beans to a boil then turn down to a simmer and simmer about 3 hours or until tender. Stir them every so often and add more water as needed. (Beans can also be cooked in the crock pot for 6-8 hours on low or until tender.) At about the 2 ½ hour mark, add salt to taste... about 1 tsp. Put less than you think you need as you can always add more later. When the beans are done, remove the pot from the heat and set it aside. Now get a large skillet and heat about 1-3 Tbsp. of canola oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. You can use lard if you like to, or bacon grease or shortening or even a little vegetable oil. Olive oil will change the taste of the beans. If desired, at this point sauté minced or pressed garlic until fragrant. Add the beans with a slotted spoon and about 1/4 c. of the bean liquid. Reserve the remaining liquid in case you need more. Don't overfill the pan, you can do this in batches if you need to or freeze any extra beans and liquid for later use. With a potato masher, mash the beans until they are of desired consistency, adding more bean liquid if needed. Stir well. Add 1 packet chili seasoning mix, or chili powder. You can also add shredded cheddar cheese and stir until mixed well, if you want to. Allow to cool a bit then stir again, if they seem too dry add more liquid and stir again. Add more liquid than you think you need because they will thicken a lot. Once you’ve incorporated all of your beans, taste the beans, add more salt if needed. Just keep adding salt and tasting until they are just right. If they seem too liquid, just keep cooking them and stirring them, the liquid will dry up as they cook. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the microwave. You can add a good healthy handful or two of cheese and just dust the top with chili powder or season according to your taste. Stir well before serving and add more cheese on top if you'd like. If you want to freeze some of the beans, freeze the beans in the liquid in freezer bags then thaw them and mash them when you are ready to make the refried beans. Serve them warm with some fresh homemade tortillas and rice you’ve got a really yummy meal!

Corn tortillas
Refried Beans
Taco Meat – browned, drained and seasoned ground beef, seasoned as desired
Chopped onions mixes with oregano leaves
Grated cheese
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Tomatoes
Sliced lives, if desired
Salsa (for a thinner taco sauce mix salsa with tomato sauce and heat through
Sour cream (can thin with milk for a thinner sauce)
Fry tortillas on both sides in hot oil until crisp and drain on paper towels. Spread flat shells with heated refried beans, taco meat, chopped onion mixture, grated cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and olives. Top with salsa, taco sauce and thinned sour cream if desired. A bit messy to eat but delicious!!!

Another idea for refried beans if you don’t have or like corn or flour tortillas, is this recipe for
Mexican Cornbread Tortillas:
1- Package cornbread mix (normally calls for ¾ cup of milk, instead use 1 cup Milk)
1 c, milk
½ cup of grated longhorn cheese
1 jalapeño pepper finely chopped
3 - 4 T. onion finely chopped.
Mix all together, let chill a few minutes. Put a well greased griddle over medium heat; pour cornbread mixture in and cook 4 or 5 minutes on each side. Cut each one in pie like slices now serve with beans or any desired toppings. This is a thick corn tortilla that tastes like cornbread.

Texas Pinto Beans
1 pound dry pinto beans
1 (29 ounce) can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup green salsa 1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper water, if needed
Place the pinto beans in a large pot, and pour in the chicken broth. Stir in onion, jalapeno, garlic, salsa, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue cooking 2 hours, stirring often, until beans are tender. Add water as needed to keep the beans moist.

Chuck Wagon Chow
1 pound beef chuck or round cut in 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons chili powder
11/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoons salad oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 4-ounce can chopped green chile
2 cups cooked and rinsed pinto beans
1 can whole kernel corn
Sprinkle beef cubes with chili powder, salt and pepper. Slowly brown the meat and garlic in the salad oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and green chili and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir often. Drain pinto beans and corn; add liquid to meat mixture; cover; simmer 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Add pinto beans and corn; cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir often

Baked (Pinto) Beans
3 c. dry pinto beans
1 medium size onion
3 c. water or unsalted chicken stock
2 level t. salt
1 heaping t. prepared mustard
1/4 t. black pepper
1 t. Worchestershire sauce
1/3 c. molasses
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/8 lb. bacon or salt pork
Cook soaked beans on low heat until tender. Drain and rinse beans. Slice onion in bottom of bean pot and add drained beans. Mix remaining ingredients, except meat, with water or chicken stock and pour over beans. Cut meat into small pieces and stir carefully into bean mixture. Place in 300° F oven and bake for 2 1/2 hours; uncover for the last half hour. Add water if necessary.

Pinto Bean Salad
2 c.s cooked and rinsed pinto beans
1/2 c. diced celery
3 green chile peppers (canned or fresh)
2 medium cucumber pickles, chopped
1/2 small onion chopped
2 T. prepared mustard -
4 T. canned milk or cream
Mix all ingredients thoroughly except mustard and cream. Beat mustard and cream together. Add to the bean mixture. Serve on lettuce. Sprinkle top with red chile powder.

Another common use of Pinto beans if to make fudge. I’m including the recipe I used and two others. I promise you can’t tell there are beans in this fudge. I made it, divided into several portions and added different ingredients for different tastes. I added raisins to one portion, mini marshmallows and chopped pecans to another, chopped dried cherries for cherry-chocolate fudge, and cashews for still another variety. Try this and you’ll be amazed that it really has beans in it.

Pinto Bean Fudge
1 c. warm cooked pinto beans
¾ c. melted butter or margarine
¾ c. cocoa
1 T. vanilla
2 lbs. powdered sugar (about 7 ½ c.)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mash or sieve beans until very smooth. (A baby food grinder would work perfect for this) Add melted butter or margarine, cocoa and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar gradually. Put on wax paper and knead sugar in until well mixed and not sticky anymore. Add nuts if desired. Press into a 9x13” non-stick pan. Store in the refrigerator.

Pinto Bean Fudge
1 cup Pinto beans, drained and mashed into a thick paste
¼-½ c. milk (or ¼ c. evaporated milk – 1 ½ T. Dry powdered milk + ¼ c. water)
6 T. Butter
6 oz. Unsweetened chocolate
1 T. Vanilla
1 c. of chopped pecans (optional)
2 lb Powdered sugar
Melt chocolate and butter together. Mix mashed pinto beans mixed with milk. Add chocolate and butter mixture and blend well. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla. Stir until slightly thickened. Gradually work in the powdered sugar (easier to knead in by hand) and pecans. Raisins (optional). Spread in buttered pan. Refrigerate.

Pinto Bean Fudge (with dry powdered milk)
1 c. soft cooked pinto beans (if using canned, boil first)
2/3 c. non-instant powdered milk
1 T. vanilla
3 T. cocoa
¾ cube butter
1 ½ - 1 ¾ c. powdered sugar
1 c. chopped nuts or raisins (optional)
Mash beans until smooth. Stir in milk, cocoa and vanilla. Combine with soft butter and stir until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar until well blended and firm. Add nuts or raisins if desired. Spread on buttered pan and cut into squares. Stays well in refrigerator for a long time.

Here are a couple of pie recipes. Give these a try and see what you think.

Mock Pumpkin Pie
2 cups pinto bean puree*
3 eggs
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
3/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1 (9”) unbaked pie shell
*Use tender cooked, unseasoned pinto beans. Rinse well and puree 2 cups beans with 1/4 to 1/2 cup water or chicken stock in a blender until smooth. Scrap down sides occasionally. Mix remaining ingredients in order given. Pour into pie shell. Bake in preheated 425° oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center of pie filling comes out clean. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

These 2 recipes are both pecan pie knock-off’s. Are you brave? Try the one you think looks the best to you. You never know, it may be your new favorite!!

Pinto Bean Pie
This pie tastes like Pecan pie and can be served with whipped cream, non-dairy whipped topping or a scoop of ice cream.
1 c. of mashed Pinto beans
½ c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. butter
2 eggs, beaten
Unbaked pie shell
Note: 1 ½ c. cooked beans equals about 1 c., mashed.
Blend sugars, eggs and butter until creamy. Add pinto beans and blend well. Pour into 9” unbaked shell. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes, then at 350º for an additional 25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Grandma’s Pinto Bean Pecan Pie
½ c. hot pinto beans
½ c. melted butter
1 t. vanilla
1 ½ c. sugar
½ c. coconut
2 eggs
1 (9”) unbaked pie shell
Heat the beans till they are hot – not boiling. Drain juice from beans and mash. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
Serving as you would pecan pie. NOTE: This is so much like a pecan pie you will be surprised.

1 comment:

Karen Burke said...

I know this was posted in 2010, but I wanted to tell you that I found it extremely helpful. I have very low iron, so I'm experimenting with different kinds of beans. I've had two bags of dry pinto beans in my cabinet for a while now. After reading your post, I feel confident enough to soak and use them. I'm very interested in what others think of your Mock Pumpkin Pie.

A Thai friend of mine showed me how to make pork spring rolls. She browned some pork, cooled and mixed it with shredded cabbage, carrots, and soy sauce. I still can't fold them like she does. We fried them in a pot of oil and served them with lots of sauces. I never order spring rolls or egg rolls from fast food places anymore. I love that we can learn the true, non commercialized versions of foods from our friends and family. Thank you for sharing your learning experience. I found it very informative and inspiring