Beans are an important, inexpensive protein source in the Mexican diet. Long, overnight soaking isn't necessary. Flavor the beans with a meaty ham bone or a chunk of Smithfield ham. Do not add salt or acidic foods until near the end of the cooking time to prevent toughening. If you enjoy the flavor, toss in 1 or 2 sprigs of epazote, a south Mexican herb of the goosefoot family. In Mexico, it is valued for its ability to relieve gas.
2 cups Mexican dried pink beans OT pinto beans
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (omit if seasoning meat is added)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
½ stalk celery, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon pure chile powder, if desired
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
Rinse and pick over beans. In a large pot, cover beans with water. Bring to a full boil and remove from heat. Let stand 1 hour. Pour out water and add 6 cups water and remaining ingredients except salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat. Simmer 2 to 3 hours, partially covered, until the beans are soft and the broth has thickened. Add salt to taste. Beans taste even better the second day.