Overnight Braised Beans

Andy Kruse
Given 15 minutes for prep, a slow cooker, some dried beans, garlic, onions and whatever seasoning moves you, you can launch a bean stew or this Quick and Spicy Bean Soup. Take off to bed and wake up with a couple of days of good eating ready to go.

Originally just onion, garlic, and oregano flavored the beans. The next go-round brought the sweet spices. They bring a lot to the party.

The one ingredient you don't want when cooking dried beans is any kind of acid, meaning anything from vinegar and wine to tomatoes. Acid keeps the beans from softening. Save it for flavoring the beans once they're done.

Cook to cook: This proves the theory that dried beans do not need soaking. So if you're in a hurry, skip the soak. They'll take a little longer to collect, but you've cut out some of the fuss. 

  • 2 to 3 cups dried pinto beans (organic if possible), not soaked 
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1-inch dice 
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano 
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick, cracked 
  • 5 whole cloves 
  • 12 whole allspice 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add enough water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Cook on high 4-1/2 hours, then turn the cooker to warm. Leave the beans on warm for 4 to 6 hours.

2. The beans should be very soft and their liquid quite creamy. Check for seasoning. Serve drained, as a stew with a little olive oil and fresh lemon, or turn them into a spicy soupBeans keep for a week in the refrigerator, 3 months in the freezer.
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Serves 6 to 8
  • A look at the history of sugar, from art and language to 3-D printing

    Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.

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