Pinto Beans

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Around here, pinto beans are a staple rural meal.  Eaten with cornbread and greens, they are a meal fit for a king.  For those who are health and money conscious, it'll feed an army for next to nothing. 

The best results come from dried beans that you reconstitute yourself.  You can cook them in a slow cooker all day while you go about your business, and in the evening when you're ready to eat, they're delicious and tender.

The common Southern way to make these involves a ham hock.  The Givens household doesn't eat pork, so I had to figure out a way to season the beans without the ham hock.  The first few pots weren't so great.  I remember the distinct taste of dirt the first time.  Now I think I have a pretty good formula. 

When making pintos from dried beans, it takes a bit of planning because you need to soak the beans for at least six hours and then cook them in a pot on the stove for about an hour and a half or in a crock pot for 4-8 hours.  It's totally worth the time.  They're even better the next day, so those of us who like leftovers will love this one.
Pinto Beans
feeds 2-4 people, with leftovers.

1 lb pinto beans
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Sort through beans, picking out any that don't look great and rocks.  Rinse beans.  Place in a large bowl and soak 6-8 hours. 
Drain beans again, and place in a crock pot (or a pot).  Cover completely with water at least up to 1" above the top of the beans.  Add salt, onion, and garlic.  If using a crock pot, heat on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours or until beans are soft.  If using a pot on the stove, heat to boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for at least 1 1/2 hours or until soft. 
Serve with cornbread, chopped onion, sourkraut, or chow chow and love it!

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