I’ve cooked beans in many different ways over the years (stovetop, pressure cooking, with and without salt, presoaked and unsoaked, and so on), and this is by far the best method. It’s a completely hassle-free process that results in tender, creamy-textured, perfectly salted beans that can be used for any purpose: Drain them and use them in soups or salads; freeze them and break off chunks to thaw and use as needed; spoon off excess cooking liquid, hit the soupy beans with an immersion blender for a few seconds or smash some with a spoon, and serve them as is; sauté onion and garlic in schmaltz or oil, add beans and seasoning, and mash them around in the skillet to make refried beans.
You’ll notice I’ve left blank spaces for cooking times. That’s because different beans, even of the same type, cook at surprisingly different rates. Older beans will take longer than fresher beans—and very old, stale beans may not even soften at all, which is why you should try to buy your beans from sources with lots of turnover. Beans from different producers and growers all cook up a bit differently. When you’ve found ones you like, note the cooking times and set your slow cooker accordingly the next time you use them. Or, of course, just check on them after about 6 hours and every hour or so afterward until they’ve reached the consistency you want.
If you prefer, soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover them by at least
Rinse the beans or hominy in a sieve under running water. Dump them into the cooker and add
Uncover, gently stir in the salt, and let cool in the liquid. Drain in a colander, rinse briefly, if you’d like (I prefer not to rinse hominy, because the liquid that remains after draining is nice and thick and flavorful), and pick out the chiles and bay leaf, if you used them. Spoon into containers or freezer bags and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
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