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Perfect Pinto Beans

By , from the Kelly Myers collection
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 9 hours
Yield 2 qt.


Beans cooked with lard are a modest luxury. Just a tablespoon or two of pork fat goes a long way towards softening the texture of dried beans, and gives you an unmistakable feeling of satiety. Make a big pot and freeze leftovers in small containers for quick thawing. Pinto beans are sturdy; they easily stay intact when thawed.


1 lb. dried pinto beans
1 small yellow onion
2 Tbsp. lard (see Note)
~ Salt


  1. Sort and rinse beans. Cover with water by 2 inches and soak 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Drain beans and place in a heavy ovenproof pot. Cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam that rises. Peel onion, leaving the stem end intact to hold the onion together. Add onion and lard to beans.
  4. Cover pot and put in oven. Check beans after 20 minutes. Add more water if needed. Beans should stay covered. They should be at a gentle simmer, not a boil, so beans do not burst. Adjust temperature of oven if necessary.
  5. Beans are done when tender but not falling apart, about 1 to 1½ hours.
  6. Add salt to beans while they are still hot and stir gently to distribute. Put cover back on; check the seasoning after 30 minutes or so, giving the beans time to absorb the salt. Then allow the beans to cool to room temperature, uncovered, before refrigerating or freezing. Remove and discard onion.


Avoid partially hydrogenated lard (the shelf-stable kind sold in boxes at room temperature). Instead, look for the best-quality lard you can find at farmers’ markets, butchers, and Latin American grocery stores.

Related article: I agree with McGee

This content is from the Kelly Myers collection.

There are 3 comments on this item
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0% recommend this recipe
1. by anonymous on Jan 23, 2010 at 8:01 PM PST

What do you think about bacon fat added to the beans? My mother taught me to save the bacon fat in glass jars, and I keep it in the serves many flavoring purposes and I admittedly use it sparingly...

2. by anonymous on Apr 14, 2010 at 4:42 PM PDT

You might want to chop up the onion it will dissappear when the beans are done. There will be nothing to remove. Bacon fat works well of course.

3. by anonymous on Jun 8, 2011 at 3:41 PM PDT

My Mexican sister-in-law taught me that adding fat makes the beans soft. So, I have even added olive oil with success. She also, using a heavy cast iron pot, cooks it on top of the stove the whole time at a slow simmer, after achieving the boiling point.

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